I’m a junior taking 16 credits including an internship. I work two jobs, and I am involved in multiple clubs on campus. Oh, and I try to have a social life in between all of the to-do lists. With that being said, I’m sure I am not the only Tommie who has a hectic schedule. In fact, I know that many of us do.
However, there is one thing I failed to mention that I feel a lot of us often forget about: volunteering.
Volunteering is something I’ve always enjoyed doing. I love giving back to the community that gives me so much, and it’s a golden opportunity to meet people and develop treasured friendships. And if you’re interested in resume boosters, I believe volunteering fits the bill.
I have thoroughly enjoyed volunteering for Up ‘til Dawn at St. Thomas. I can easily spend three hours at this event each year because they feed you, provide fun entertainment and you get to write letters in support of a great cause. Ever since I was an orientation leader, I’ve always tried to make volunteering at Loaves and Fishes, a nonprofit agency that feeds the hungry in the St. Paul area, a tradition.
In our occupied and somewhat demanding lives, where everything seems to comes with a deadline, volunteering sometimes takes a backseat. As college students, many of us have bills to pay, not to mention tuition, books, meals plans, housing and miscellaneous fees. For some people, it seems like receiving a paycheck takes priority, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I wouldn’t be attending St. Thomas if it weren’t for my on-campus jobs.
On the other side of the spectrum, St. Thomas is located in a superior location where volunteering opportunities in the city are limitless. In fact, the university offers numerous opportunities for volunteer work that some students don’t even know about.
When I was a freshman, I started scoping out clubs on campus, and I was introduced to service hours. I thought the concept of having students complete volunteer work as part of being a member of a club was great. I was a little discouraged though when one club I joined, which will remain unnamed, was giving its members the incentive to lie and make up their hours if they didn’t get them in on time in order for the club to continue to get funding. I may be old-fashioned, but that did not seem like it followed St. Thomas’ mission.
Another thing that boggled my mind was the fact that students are only required to complete 1.5 hours of service per semester to be a member of a club. That’s only three hours of total service for the year if they are only involved in one organization. I was required to complete more than quadruple that number in high school over the course of one year.
I do not feel this requirement hinders clubs and organizations as a whole. If a club, for example, has 40 members and they all do 1.5 hours of service, the club is putting in 60 hours for the semester. As an organization, that’s pretty beneficial; however, I feel we are getting off a little too easy individually.
I know we are all busy, believe me. But if we are able to take an hour out of our week or even every month to volunteer in something that can benefit our campus or our community, we are becoming a part of something greater than we think.
People everywhere appreciate it. I have become a more well-rounded individual from doing volunteer work over the course of many years, and I cannot express the amount of “thank yous” I’ve received.
So look around campus, talk to the service and accountability member of your organization and do some research. Leave some free space in your busy life. Go beyond the bare minimum; it’s worth it. Let’s volunteer and say we did.
Terese Quarberg can be reached at email@example.com.