By KATIE CARLTON
Many Drake students understand the benefits of volunteering and have found the time to fit volunteering opportunities into their schedules despite the issue of “Drake Busy”.
The Assistant of the Community Engaged Learning Office, Amanda Martin, said that students have a lot to gain from volunteering. The Community Engaged Learning Office at Drake helps promote and connect students to volunteer opportunities, while also maintaining relationships with community partners.
Martin said that volunteering can help students pop the “Drake Bubble” through getting more involved in the community and seeing issues from a different perspective than their own. She also said that students can gain personal and professional skills that could be highlighted on a resume through volunteering.
“There are many benefits to volunteering including networking, forming bonds and connections,” said Martin. “You are also fulfilling a need, even if the work is not-so-glamorous.”
Martin said that students with a busy schedule can find the time to fit volunteering into their schedule because some volunteering opportunities offered on campus take less than 30 minutes. She said that even if students are unable to find the time to volunteer, there are small thing students can do within their day that demonstrates socially responsible behavior like recycling or supporting a small business.
The Philanthropy Chair of a Drake Student Organization, Hannah Wieland, said that she finds volunteer opportunities by looking online and at the posters and flyers that she sees around campus. Wieland said that she focuses on opportunities related to animals and people because it is her favorite type of volunteer work.
“I love volunteering with animals and people,” Wieland said. “I especially love volunteering with children because it is important to be a good role model for them.”
Wieland also said that the reason she volunteers is because it allows her an opportunity to give back to the communities that built us. She said she is always encouraging others to volunteer within the community.
Wieland said that she always tries to volunteer with her friends because it’s more fun. She said that she tries to get friends to volunteer with her by choosing something that they all like to do and arranging in it advance, so everyone has time for it.
Martin said that students who want to find out about volunteer opportunities both on and off campus can visit drake.edu/volunteer.
She said that Drake partners with United Way of Central Iowa to maintain a database of volunteer opportunities within the community, which the Community Engaged Learning Office encourages students to utilize to find off-campus opportunities. She said the website also lists some on-campus volunteer opportunities, in addition to strategic volunteer opportunities that are close to the Drake campus.
Martin said that there are some ongoing volunteering opportunities through the Service-Learning Ambassador Program within the Drake Community Engaged Learning Office including opportunities with the Sprout Garden and NextCourse Food Recovery.
The Sprout Garden needs volunteers to help with weeding, watering and planting. Interested students can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. NextCourse Food Recovery needs volunteers to recover untouched leftover food from the Drake Dining Facilities and bring it to community partners. Interested students can email email@example.com.
Martin said that there also several nonprofits within the Drake Neighborhood that are looking for volunteers. She said that IMPACT and Lutheran Services of Iowa are both located along University Avenue within walking distance of campus. IMPACT serves people and families who are in need of energy assistance, food assistance and resource navigation. The Lutheran Services of Iowa serves the refugee community in Des Moines.
Martin said that there are also volunteer opportunities with two elementary schools within the Drake Neighborhood. She said King Elementary offers opportunities, where college students can read to elementary students through the “Everyone, Wins Iowa Program.” She said there is also a “Bulldog Mentoring Program” with Monroe Elementary School, in which Drake students tutor elementary students.
“When the Drake community comes together as a whole and puts their energy, time and skills into one place we are able to make a collective impact,” Martin said.
Martin said that collective impact is part of Drake’s mission statement, which is why it is so important to encourage students to become involved with volunteering. She said she wants students to leave Drake with the skills, knowledge and resources to create change wherever they’re at.