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Service fair emphasizes networking

Sean Meenaghan | Photo Editor
Sean Meenaghan | Photo Editor

SEAN MEENAGHANPhoto Editor
The SCSU service team organized its second annual Service Fair Jan. 30, to promote the numerous non-profit organizations in the New Haven Area to the Southern community.
The organizations at the fair informed Southern students and faculty about different ways they can perform community service. Stefan Keller, head of the service team, has put the fair together for two years. Keller said he planned to bring more groups than the previous year.
“By doubling the amount of agencies I hope to see twice as many Southern students,” Keller said. “Students can stop by, talk to a couple organizations, grab a snack and head off.”
RJ Mercede and Emily Gallagher, managers of Public Allies, a non-profit organization that exposes young adults to leadership training, said they want to expose new ideas to these recent college graduates.
“We focus on developing professional skills and leadership,” said Mercede. “There are 37 allies networking in Connecticut.”
Mercede said Public Allies focuses on three main cities, which include Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven. With so many companies helping Public Allies, Mercede said the organization opens doors to employment.
“Some allies continue to work with the same organization,” said Mercede.
Gallagher added that some look to be more educated in the field they want to pursue.
“Seventy percent of the people that work with Public Allies stay with the same non-profit organization,” Gallagher said. “Twenty to 25 percent go back to school and some go on to other businesses.”
Networking is ideal for the organization, according to Mercede.
“It gives the people exposure to leaders in sectors.” Mercede said. “I hope the fair gets people thinking about what they’re doing next. I hope to connect with them.”
Keller said he hopes the Service Fair can bring Southern students out of just the campus environment and into the community.
“The service fair brings a connection to the university and the New Haven community,” Keller said. “Many students come to school not knowing what’s going on down the street.”
Keller said he believes the fair will show a positive initiative.
“It speaks a lot about Southern,” Keller said. “The university is trying to get students involved with volunteering.”
The service club fills a need for students who want to get involved, according to Keller.
“Some students may not want to be in a club with a lot of people,” he said. “Students can get involved individually.”
Jami Horton, volunteer coordinator of the Whitney Center, said students and faculty have the ability to influence residents at the center.
“Volunteers can do lifetime stories where volunteers talk about life and engage the residents’ memory,” Horton said. “Volunteers can also play instruments, games and do arts and crafts.”
Eileen Jenetopulos, volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, said the house is a home away from home for children being treated in hospitals.
“Volunteers can play with kids and give tours of the house,” Jenetopulos said. “Many Girl Scouts come in to work with the kids.”
Volunteers could come and cook at the house as well, according to Jenetopulos.
“Volunteers can make a meal for the children and their families,” she said. “It gives the children a good feeling when they smell the food since they have been in the hospital.”
Jenetopulous said the house brings in many volunteers.
“The house draws a lot of students from the area,” Jenetopulos said, “to fulfill community service requirements.”

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