By Emily Huntington
Several classes and student clubs on campus have great volunteering opportunities for students. The best part is, you don’t necessarily have to be a member of the club to do it.
For example, the veteran’s club has a variety of things students can do year round – and you don’t have to be a veteran.
“We encourage participation from veterans and non-veterans alike, with any and all means possible,” said Kristopher Powell, a member of the Veteran’s club.
Powell added that the best way to get involved in volunteer work through the club is to go to the meetings, held every Wednesday at 3 p.m. in Syre 216. Their latest project is gathering donations to send off to an army unit currently deployed in Afghanistan. This drive is in memorial of a Whatcom County soldier who was killed there recently. The club is coordinating their efforts with KGMI radio station who will also be collecting goods.
Last year, the veteran’s club sent members to an elderly woman’s home to clean out her garage. They usually pick the jobs that no one else will, by going to Whatcom’s Volunteer Center.
The communications club, advised by Guy Smith, does a variety of on and off campus activities throughout the academic year. They participate in food drives around Bellingham for the Food Bank as well as donating food for the animals at Whatcom Humane Society. Their big event is the annual Whatcom Literacy Council Trivia Bee and Silent Auction, taking place on April 2 at Bellingham High School. They are also hosting their annual trivia bee in the Syre auditorium on December 9 at 5 p.m., in conjunction with the business club’s book sale.
The communication club is “looking for three-person teams (of students) to compete for a really nice first-place award; there will also be some good raffle give-aways for audience members,” Smith said.
For questions, contact the communication club. They meet Thursdays at 2:45.
There is an opportunity for a resume stuffer through the business club as well. Right now students are being trained by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on how to assist low-income people with filing their taxes. It goes from now until April.
Leah Congdon is the new service-learning coordinator and is here through a volunteer program called VISTA – volunteer in service to America. She is here for a year. Service learning is a new program at Whatcom that engages students in community service activities, while applying what they have learned in class to something in the community.
Congdon can be reached by e-mail, email@example.com, by phone, 383-3072, or by stopping in at Kulshan Hall room 107.
Laura Overstreet’s Lifespan Development Psychology class has about a third of her students working with the Volunteer chore program, helping people with disabilities remain independently in their homes. Students with the chore program do yard work, house work, and other chores, like picking up groceries for them. This helps students see some of the psychological and physical challenges that people face later in life, and then they are able to apply it to what they are studying in class. They keep a journal of their progress along the way that will be turned in at the end of the quarter. Overstreet hopes that this program will open doors for more volunteer opportunities, and that her students will continue to help people, even when the class is over.
With the chore program, there is no training, so volunteers can get busy right away. Students give their preferences (male/female) and are matched with someone they can help. A lot of the students participating are nursing majors, so it gives them the opportunity to meet people for possible leads of employment, as well as making them more marketable since they have some level of experience.
On Make a Difference Day, Overstreet had her students volunteer for a day and write reflections on what they learned and how they felt.
“Out of about 60 students, 28 volunteered,” she said.
Several students, one being Rachel Clemons, helped paint at Lutherwood Camp on Lake Samish. “It made me feel great to help out with the chores that needed to be done at this non-profit Lutheran camp that hosts many camps for kids all year long,” she said in her reflection.
“I felt that Make a Difference Day was a good way to give back to the community and I’m sure I’ll be participating in this event in the future,” said student Kelsey Williams.
Student Cherie Swanson spent her time with the arthritis foundation, folding Jingle Bell Run t-shirts. Jingle Bell run is the annual Bellingham event that supports research and funding for the foundation. Swanson was looking for ways to make her application to Western stronger, and through Make a Difference Day she was able to become a reading intervention teacher at Shuksan Middle School.
“I try as hard as I can to set forth a positive example for my sons, and I believe volunteering speaks volumes about the kind of person I want to be and has a positive impact in the creation of the kind of community I am proud to be a member of,” she said in her reflection.