Giving back and growing up: University volunteer opportunities seemingly endless, yield rewarding results

I’ve always been the kind of person who loves helping other people and think it’s extremely important to give back to your community.

Whether you volunteer your time once a year by participating in the Alternative Spring Break trip for a full week or you spend a few hours a month in a retirement home, volunteering is essential to establishing a balanced life.

I’ve recently had the privilege of helping volunteer in the greenhouse here at the University. Once a week a few Hawk Hall residents and I head to the roof of Dana Hall to plant flowers in preparation for the spring.

Run by facilities worker Bob Fronczek, the plants produced in the greenhouse eventually make their way all around campus and some ever to the commencement stage in May.

It’s a small once a week opportunity that I look forward to. I personally haven’t volunteered much since high school where I worked with my town’s Emergency Medical Service crew, but getting back into the swing of it is fulfilling.

Despite the fact that volunteer hours are mandatory for most fraternities and sororities, I still maintain that average students not affiliated or mandated to help volunteer should take advantage of the opportunities the university has to offer.

The Center for Community Service, headed by Director Matt Blocker, is a good place to start. Hosting their second annual Day of Service on April 27, the Center for Community Service encourages students to volunteer their time in Hartford at either a church, park, food pantry or other non-profit organization.

The center also has a searchable database to find opportunities to volunteer in any area code.Even for those apprehensive about volunteering, the rewards not only come in the shape of the feeling of helping others, but also in the experience.

Prospective employers love applicants who volunteer and I don’t think I’ve ever heard of volunteering contributing to a negative aspect of a resume. It’s understandable that students may feel overwhelmed with school work and a part time job, but I’ve come to find that volunteering, no matter what you’re looking to do, can fit into any schedule.

We, as students of a university, are extremely privileged to be pursuing a degree in higher education, and I think it is part of our job to give back. President Walter Harrison’s “Committed to Community” speech at freshmen convocation is still resonating with the University and, I think, vital to how we can shape our futures.

I encourage university students to dive in, help out less fortunate children, the elderly, clean up a park and at the very least donate to a good cause whether it be food or old clothing.

The feeling and rewards that come with volunteering, even on a small scale, can truly have an impact on an individual outlook and help build a foundation for a future of contributing to helping others.