Volunteer fair provides ways to give back

Staff Reporter

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On Wednesday, Sept. 19, from 10 a.m. to noon, St. Edward’s University will host the annual nonprofit and volunteer organization fair in the Mabee Ballroom. At the fair, students will be able to speak with representatives from a variety of volunteer and nonprofit organizations to find out how to get involved with their community.

Lou Serna, assistant director of Campus Ministry, said he believes the nonprofit fair fits perfectly with the university’s education philosophy.

“As a university founded by the congregation of Holy Cross, serving our community is a defining characteristic of both the Congregation and St. Edward’s,” said Serna. “Nonprofit organizations help our community ‘confront critical issues of society,’ which is part of our University mission. For many, volunteering helps put classroom theory to practice while providing personal and professional development. In addition, volunteering is fun and a great way to meet others with similar interests.”

Serna hopes the fair encourages students to give something back to their community.

“For those who are not sure what they are looking for, they can learn a lot about what is available in the community,” said Serna. “For those with an idea of what they want out of their volunteer opportunity, it is easy for them to target their experience.”

St. Edward’s sponsors many volunteer opportunities for students who are interested in serving. One of these opportunities is Alternative Spring Break. Through this program, students go to one of many possible destinations to do volunteer work together.

Tyler Riola, a senior accounting major, participated in Alternative Spring Break. Riola went to Phoenix, Ariz. to volunteer at a homeless shelter.

“For me, there was of course a huge difference between being at the homeless shelter and being at St. Edward’s,” said Riola. “Being immersed in that environment helped me realize what I take for granted. Even a simple cell phone call, for example.”

Serna and Riola share the view that serving is an enlightening experience.

“I would say that students should definitely perform volunteer work. The opportunities that St. Edward’s offers are once-in-a-lifetime experiences that, to my knowledge, are not offered anywhere else,” said Riola. 

Jeff Arn, a fifth-year senior, also supports nonprofits as a part of the St. Edward’s mission.

“St. Ed’s admission and its core values are centered around getting back to the community. I feel like it is important for a St. Ed’s student to embody those values,” said Arn. “We should use the skills and values that St. Ed’s taught us to give back to the community.”

Serna said he hopes to influence students to gain positive experience through their own volunteer work.

“There are many people in the world struggling, and as a person of privilege, I have a moral obligation to help others,” said Serna. 

The fair is sponsored by Campus Ministry, Career Services and the Office of Community Engagement.