Involvement fair attracts students interested in volunteering

Chelsie Hanstad

Seventy-five community organizations converged on Coffman Union on Wednesday, aiming to recruit new student volunteers.

In its first year in Coffman Union, the Career and Community Learning Center’s 10th annual Community Involvement Fair also showcased for students opportunities available on campus and in the community.

“It’s a chance for students to connect with community organizations to find internship and volunteer opportunities,” said Kristen Dawson, the center’s service learning coordinator.

All the groups participating in the fair were nonprofit organizations. Some were first-time attendees, but more than two-thirds had participated before.

The returning groups said the success of the fair in past years has kept them coming back.

“It’s always really well attended and organized,” said Nicole Medrano, a program director for the English Learning Center, which helps immigrants communicate and interpret American culture.

The English Learning Center has participated in the event for several years, Medrano said.

New groups also said their recruitment efforts were successful.

“We’ve had a very good response,” said Martha Roberts of the Repeal Conceal Coalition, which was at the fair for the first time. “We want as many (students) as possible.”

The Repeal Conceal Coalition opposes the new gun legislation passed in April.

Some community groups offered more than their views to lure students. Free magnets, candy and bumper stickers adorned some tables for prospective volunteers.

One group even set up a putting green, and representatives encouraged passers-by to take a swing. At other booths, drawings for prizes kept students coming.

Dawson said there was concern the new Coffman location would decrease the number of fair visitors and said it might return to its former Washington Avenue Bridge site.

“This is kind of a test year,” Dawson said. “If we don’t get as big of a turnout as we usually do, we’re going to move it back outside.”

The bridge was a good location because students passing through the bridge would see the fair and stop, Dawson said.

The Career and Community Learning Center is also active throughout the year. It connects students to the community by advising them on how to get involved and providing courses which link ideas discussed in class with community service.