Today: Jun 25, 2024

Service Fair gives students a chance to make relationships

Jessica Giannone, General Assignment Reporter-
It can be difficult for students to find places to volunteer, according to the Board of Club and Organization Management chair for the Student Government Association, Stefan Keller. The Service Fair held at Southern this past Monday provided those opportunities.

Rob Goehrke of Solar Youth presents at the Service Fair. Photo Courtesy Sean Meenghan

Keller said the idea behind the Service Fair was to bring together agencies from the local community to Southern so that students, clubs and organizations could team up with them to volunteer or form long-term partnerships.
“There’s so much information around,” said Keller, “you don’t exactly know where to go and what to do. We want[ed] to bring some [organizations] here so students can see all the different agencies.”
The Service Team at Southern, along with Student Government, sponsored the fair for agencies in the New Haven area to come to the university, according to Keller, and there were about 10 agencies at the fair.

The Facebook event page for the Service Fair said, “Many of us want to make a difference, but simply do not feel that we as college students can. However, all of us have the ability to make a difference in our community.”

Keller said there were “all kinds” of volunteering opportunities.

Some of the organizations at the fair included the Ronald McDonald house of Connecticut, SolAmor Hospice, Big Brothers Big Sisters, LEAP, Music Haven, New Haven Reads and Solar Youth.
The kinds of community service promoted at the fair included activities such as spending time with the elderly, tutoring, contributing to homeless shelter agencies, participating in children’s education and activity programs, hosting and organizing events and cooking for the underprivileged, among other services.
Kristen McKay, an executive assistant for New Haven Home Recovery, one of the non-profit organizations at the fair, said her agency has seen a “dramatic increase” of homeless families in the New Haven area, so they sought “outside support.”
“We’re always in need of volunteers to organize the donations, and help out in thrift stores, and assist clients in finding the items that they need,” said McKay.
She said her organization runs emergency shelters for women and children, and works on tasks such as supportive housing and family-stabilization programs.

“We out-reach to different groups, and try to focus on different universities to help out,” said McKay.

Enjoli Raymond, a recruiter for Boys and Girls Village Inc. said her organization was looking for volunteers to help promote, hand out flyers or host open houses in their community.

“What we’re looking to do is spread the word about foster care,” said Raymond. “We’re looking for new and creative ways to connect with the different communities in the area.”

The organization, which has about 15 volunteers, according to Raymond, focuses on providing homes for foster children, and it is trying to reach out to different colleges like Southern.

Alex Nogas, a chair for one of Southern’s sororities, said she went to the service fair for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, which focuses on promoting successful futures for children.

“I’m looking for another way to help my girls get out there and help other people,” said Nogas.

Sarah Perkins of Music Haven presents at the Service Fair. Photo Courtesy Sean Meenghan

Keller said there are so many students who are interested in volunteering, but it could be hard and “even scary” to try and find an agency.

He said it was the first time Southern ever had a service fair where a bunch of agencies came together at once.

“I thought that was really great because there’s so many students [at Southern],” said Keller.

According to Keller, because the promotion hasn’t been as successful as the service team wanted due to issues such as weather, they are hoping to have an “even bigger” service fair next fall semester.


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