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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

ASUA revamps volunteer program, offers new community service website

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Stephanie Casanova

Stephanie Casanova/The Daily Wildcat

ASUA recently rebranded and revamped one of its programs, making it easier for students to volunteer in community organizations.

Volunteer UA will now house three previously existing volunteering areas within the UA: Alt Breaks, internal volunteering and external volunteering. The program also offers students a website, Volunteer Match, where they can search for organizations that seek volunteers based on their interests.

Students are able to visit the website, search key words related to their issue of interest, for example, hunger or environment, and get a list of projects available relating to that issue.
“I think that it’s really clever because sometimes it’s hard to kind of connect your interests with the service that you’re doing,” said Kate Medici, director of Alt Breaks. “So, if you’re interested in it, that makes it easier to do, and you can become even more passionate about volunteering that way.”

Alt Breaks connects students with week-long community service projects throughout the country, especially the Southwest states, according to Medici. The projects focus on a social issue and students complete many projects related to the specified issue throughout the week, Medici added.

The director of internal volunteering plans community service events for ASUA members to attend, allowing them to connect outside of the ASUA office. With three branches in ASUA, members sometimes get caught up in working within their branch, said Bryan Namba, executive director of Volunteer UA. Internal volunteering gets them off campus where they can build stronger relationships while helping the Tucson community, Namba added.

External volunteering is a way for ASUA to connect UA students to their community. The director of external volunteering plans events for students to participate in throughout the year. Lauren Hoepfner, director of external volunteering, said she is planning The Big Event for the UA in early November.

The Big Event is a service day that’s popular in many colleges nationwide and, at some colleges, thousands of students have participated. Hoepfner said she hopes the UA’s event will also see the same amount of students participating in the future. For the UA’s day of service, students will repair Tucson resident homes.

ASUA members said they realized students didn’t have a place to go to if they wanted to find volunteer projects. In order to make the process easier, ASUA decided to create Volunteer UA as a one-stop-shop for students looking to help the community, according to Namba.

“The dream is that, one day, Volunteer UA is going to be a program that a lot of students turn to as a resource,” Namba said. “Volunteering is important. Volunteering is a great way to be engaged in the Tucson and Wildcat community.”

The Volunteer Match website also makes it quicker for students to do research and find an organization they want to join. Instead of having to research local organizations and contact those organizations to see what specific activities need volunteers, the keyword search provides specific project information as well as contact information.

Chloe White, a psychology senior, said she believes volunteering is important because it provides different life perspectives. The new program, she added, seems like an easy way to get more students involved.

“[Volunteering is] fulfilling and enriching … and you can help so many people by volunteering that it broadens their horizons,” White said.

Namba said it makes sense to have a streamlined process to serve as a resource to students.
“The U of A is really unique in the sense that we are really close with the Tucson community,” Namba said. “Because of that, it provides a lot of opportunities for students to be involved.”

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