Volunteering is More Than Free Labor

When picturing the lifestyle of a typical college student, the thought of getting involved on campus in a way that does not include going to class or getting invites to parties is usually not the main focus. Many people tend to forget that amidst all of the schoolwork and social aspects of college life, volunteering and joining clubs is also a very crucial part of the experience.

Marilyn Ward, Coordinator of Service Learning and Community Programs, said, “Campus and/or community involvement gives students a chance to explore their potential and give back to the University or the local community.”

At the University, it is incredibly easy to start giving back. According to the school’s website, the University is home to more than 75 student-run organizations. These include various clubs, fraternities, sororities, honor societies, governing bodies, and publication and media outlets, all of which exist for the sake of giving back and making a difference.

“Volunteering has taught me a lot about myself,” freshman Jameson Tisch said. He is involved in the Student Alumni Association, the First Year Service Project and Student Government Association. Tisch explained that his time spent volunteering has benefited him greatly, as he has gained new leadership skills and a much more prominent sense of responsibility.

Ward said she believes that volunteers are leaders because “volunteering takes initiative, organization, and a passion for the cause that you support.” The leadership skills that students gain through volunteering can be used in future workplaces and all throughout life.

Susan Damaschke, Coordinator of Transitions and Leadership Programs, said, “Getting involved also builds necessary leadership skills so that students make the most of their college experience and are prepared for life after college.” These skills are not the only things that students find themselves with after spending time doing things for others.

After traveling to both Guatemala and Haiti with the Alternative Spring Break Program, Shannen Wilson, junior, said that she has made friendships that will last a lifetime. “I have formed deep, lasting connections with the people I have traveled with. Those trips have influenced my Monmouth experience for the better,” she said.

Wilson is also heavily involved in other campus activities: she is a Peer Learning Assistant and is a Student Coordinator for both the Honors Mentoring Program and the First Year Service Project as well. She also works at the New Student Orientations.

Although students do not have to be as involved as Wilson to reap the benefits of volunteer work, her experiences can be used as an example of everything that students gain from volunteering. According to Damaschke, these opportunities are great ways for students to improve their resumes, and they also allow new friendships and relationships to form. When working with other people who share the same passion for a particular cause, strong bonds are created.

However, beginning to volunteer or work with an organization can be tough. It is intimidating to walk into a situation with no prior experience or knowledge. Everyone already involved is most likely very excited to have a new volunteer to help out and will do whatever it takes to make the new volunteers feel comfortable.

Both on and off-campus organizations are very flexible when it comes to students’ schedules; they understand that schoolwork comes first, so meetings will usually be held at a convenient time for the students. Ward explained, “Students can volunteer in the community once a week, once a month, or even once a semester – there are so many different types of opportunities available.” Regardless of how frequently a student attends a meeting or actually completes volunteer work, any help for an organization is tremendously appreciated.

For many college students, the thought of volunteering sometimes seems to be put on the backburner. There are other things that may seem more important, but getting involved in community service efforts produces incredibly satisfying benefits and it is perhaps one of the most important, yet underrated, aspects of a student’s time in college.

Freshman Deanna Getty said, “It is such an amazing, selfless feeling knowing you impacted someone else in a great way. Putting a smile on a stranger’s face is so awesome.” With all of the different clubs and organizations that the University offers, there is no excuse not to get involved.

IMAGE TAKEN from monmouth.edu