Parkland to host volunteer fair on Feb. 1

Emma Gray

Editor

Parkland College will be putting on a volunteer fair for students Wednesday, Feb. 1 from 11 a.m.–1:30 p.m. in the Student Union.

“There will be roughly 20 organizations at the volunteer fair,” says Joshua Clark, volunteer coordinator at Parkland.

During the fair, students can sign up to do various work for nonprofit organizations, with commitment levels ranging from short, one-time events to long-term partnerships.

A few organizations to be present include Crisis Nursery, Wesley Food Pantry, the local Humane Society, Salt and Light, Planned Parenthood, and Habitat for Humanity.

“We have a variety of organizations so they offer a variety of volunteer opportunities. This includes special events, volunteering at an organization for a single time, internships, working with children and many more,” Clark says.

This variety means there is a lot of flexibility in what students can do and when they do it. This allows the event to “cater to different people’s interest and availability,” he said.

Not all opportunities are as simple as just signing up, with some requiring training, background checks, or interviews. Champaign Unit 4 Schools, for instance, require background checks for classroom volunteers.

“Some volunteer opportunities will have background checks, for example if they are working with children. They may have a more extensive interview or sign up process if the position requires more of a commitment or involves handling sensitive information,” Clark says.

According to Parkland’s website, volunteering can be a great way for students to “network, boost self-esteem, learn a new skill or hobby, and build a student resume.”

Clark touches on this last point, saying, “Volunteering can and should be put on your resume. It displays experience, motivation, and can highlight your interest in a career field. Also people with volunteer experience are more likely to get hired and are more likely to be paid more than a similar candidate without volunteer experience.”

For students desiring recognition for their volunteer service, Parkland is willing to provide such recognition.

“Parkland has a service fraternity that recognizes volunteer hours and the Service-Learning Department is developing a way to recognize Parkland students with outstanding volunteerism,” Clark says.

The Parkland Service-Learning Department home page also has lists of organizations students can volunteer with that is more extensive than what will be represented at the fair, with links to over fifty organizations. Its page on the my.parkland.edu website lists courses that include or offer a service-learning component for interested students.

Questions about service-learning opportunities can be directed to Service-Learning Coordinator Brian Nudelman—who himself teaches a course with a service-learning aspect—at bnudelman@parkland.edu. For additional information on volunteering and Feb. 1’s volunteer fair, contact Clark at jclark@parkland.edu or at 217-353-3302.