By Megan Jones/A&A editor
Volunteer opportunities abound this upcoming weekend. Everyone is invited to take part in helping others on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. These events are leading up to the big community service event Make a Difference Day on Oct. 23. Amber Jones, coordinator of volunteerism, has been settling into her role of coordinating volunteer opportunities for around a year now. She will be graduating this December with a degree in communications studies from Eastern. Her childhood prompted her to help as many people as possible in her future. This is one of the motivations behind her job as coordinator.
“Volunteering is a very important part of my life,” Jones said. “My mother baby-sat for others when I was little, so I was surrounded by kids. I felt a honest need to help them. It sort of became a family value for us.”
Jones also added that in addition to volunteerism being a family value, it should be a societal value that the community shares.
“Residents really take notice when students give up their Saturday morning to go pick up trash around the neighborhood,” she commented. “Students would be surprised by how going out of their comfort zones could make a real difference for them and their community as a whole.”
According to Jones, many students are participating actively in volunteerism opportunities, but the office always likes to have as many students helping as possible.
“Volunteerism is a language anyone can understand in various parts of the world today,” she said.
She added that it is especially important for freshman members to start volunteering early as well. Volunteering at the start of their college experiences can give them more of an incentive to continue doing charity work throughout their career, Jones said, not to mention the good, universal values they learn through volunteering. It also helps freshmen feel more connected to Eastern’s campus and the community as a whole, she commented.
“It’s great for all students to get involved,” Jones added. “They really feel better about themselves, and it is a great opportunity for them to build friendships and rsums at the same time. “
With a busy college schedule and a job on the side, however, it is very easy for some students to get consumed with themselves instead of others in the community, Jones mentioned.
“When a student volunteers at the UK Children’s Hospital and sees what kind of trials those children are going through compared to theirs, it can be a slap in the face,” she added. “I was once there myself, so I know how that can feel.”
Trina Day, a senior psychology and criminal justice major at Eastern, is an active volunteer.
“It’s nice to work on something, to get concerned for other people through volunteering,” she said. “It makes you more thankful for what you have.”
For volunteers, the university offers the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Volunteers can be of any age or group and can receive a gold, silver or bronze ranking. This helps motivate volunteers to have a “lifetime of service” – a challenge to meet the goal of 4,000 community service hours during their entire lives, Jones said.
“I would not understand why someone wouldn’t want to volunteer,” Jones commented. “A totally service-oriented society would be a loving society.”
To get information on the volunteer opportunities this weekend or on Make a Difference day and how to get on the volunteerism e-mail list for updates, call Jones at 622-2052, or send her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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