The Pitt News

Students do good, boost resumes at volunteer fair

Students+attend+annual+volunteer+fair.+Photo%3A+Emily+Klenk+%2F+Staff+Photographer
Students attend annual volunteer fair. Photo: Emily Klenk / Staff Photographer

Students attend annual volunteer fair. Photo: Emily Klenk / Staff Photographer

Students attend annual volunteer fair. Photo: Emily Klenk / Staff Photographer

By Annemarie Carr / Staff Writer

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Senior Jessica Star came to the volunteer fair for the love of community service and the added intention of bulking up her resumé.

Volunteering, she said, gets her experience with other people.

“There are a lot of diverse people in Pittsburgh, and by volunteering, I get to learn more about them and their lives,” Star said.

More than 350 students came together with more than 90 community and 11 student organizations for the annual fall volunteer fair on the William Pitt Union lawn Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eleven student service organizations such as Colleges Against Cancer, Pitt Make a Difference Day and Pitt Project Potter lined the path from the WPU Fifth Avenue entrance to the front of the Union. Volunteer groups concerning community development, education, veterans, children, hunger and senior citizens filled the lawn to seek out this year’s crop of do-gooders.

“We have this event to give community partners exposure to our students,” Rachel Zadnik, outreach coordinator for the Office of PittServes, said.

Mark Oleniacz, the vice-chairman of the South Oakland Neighborhood Group, came to the fair to find students interested in improving the neighborhood by trimming and pruning trees. Oleniacz hopes with community involvement, volunteers will be able to push landlords to replace trees on their properties.

“A lot of the trees need to be surveyed, and some need to be replaced,” Oleniacz said

Daisy Perez, a graduate student in the social work program, said she came to the fair to see what kind of resources might be available for the children and families she plans to work with in the future.

One such organization, Codename: S.A.T.U.R.D.A.Y., offers board games, video games and moral-themed movies to kids every Saturday and wants students to be actively involved in these activities.

“I hope to find students who want to work with children ages five to 18,” Frank Tillman, youth program director for Codename: S.A.T.U.R.D.A.Y, said.

Patrick Ford, a freshman, was looking for volunteer opportunities at school to expand on the experience he’s already had at home.

Ford, an English writing major, volunteered at a summer camp for elementary and preschool students this past summer before coming to Pitt.

“I got to learn a lot about monitoring the kids during activities such as swimming,” Ford said, hoping to put that skill to use this year.

Children’s organizations weren’t the only groups looking for tutors at the fair. Goodwill is working to battle illiteracy among adults in Allegheny County through its tutoring program.

Goodwill offers tutoring for community members who want to earn their GED and for people in the community who want to learn English as a second language.

Jen Hemme, a representative from Goodwill, said the program is in dire need of tutors for its Southside location and requires at least a three-hour time commitment per week.

Star, a senior communication sciences and disorders major, is already involved with some of the student organizations at the fair, including Alpha Phi Omega, a student service fraternity, and has volunteered for the Hospital Elder Life Program at UPMC Shadyside for three semesters. Star volunteers four hours a week, talking with the patients to improve their hospital stay while watching the patients for signs of dementia.

Star said she volunteers because it helps her learn about the city and its members.

“The other day I met someone who grew up in Pittsburgh and danced for Gene Kelly,” Star said. “I want to work with older adults as a profession. This is getting me ready.”

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Students do good, boost resumes at volunteer fair