“We, at the Center, believe that to get a well-rounded education, civic engagement needs to play a role,” says Brett White, special events coordinator at the Center. “We want students to come to WVU and receive the highest quality education possible. We think that being civically engaged is only increasing students chances of job placement, being a world citizen and being able to compete in the market today.”
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Annually more than 6,000 WVU students complete community service projects in Morgantown – adding up to more than 100,000 hours. Many of these projects start with the Center, which opened in 2006 and is a hub for community volunteer opportunities. Local organizations and people in need turn to the Center for help, and the Center works with students, faculty and staff to fulfill those needs.
So far, the Center has made quite an impact.
In the first year the Center was open, volunteerism by WVU students increased by more than 400 percent, White said.
Christian Help in Morgantown wouldn’t be able to operate at the same capacity without the help of WVU students.
Student volunteers help to run the organization’s five programs. In the past, volunteers have worked on the organization’s website, performed program-needs assessments, designed newsletters and worked with clients, among other things.
“I don’t know what we would do if it weren’t for the Center. We receive thousands of hours of community service through the University each year,” said Cheryl Stout, executive director of Morgantown’s Christian Help.
Students interested in volunteering, whether for class credit or just “because,” can visit the Center and a community coordinator will work with that student to place them in service opportunities that fit with their major.
The Center has 110 certified non-profit partners. The partners have gone though training on how to supervise the students and how to offer a meaningful service experience.
Faculty members are also widely encouraged to incorporate some sort of service-learning requirement into their curriculum. The Center can help faculty members identify opportunities that fit with the course. This year, the Center will be able to provide grants to faculty members to incorporate service-elements into their course curriculum.
At Milan Puskar Health Right, journalism students have created health brochures for patients and statistics students have completed data analysis. A variety of students are also recruited to help with office duties like data entry, filing and completing paper work.
“We have a small staff and a lot of what we do is very paper-intensive. We couldn’t afford to pay for what a lot of these students do for us,” said Darien Bloom, volunteer coordinator and grant assistant at Milan Puskar Health Right. “The CCE has been such a vital part of growing our organization.”
In addition to placing students with organizations, several times a year the Center arranges a variety of service events to get the University community engaged.
The Center also works regularly with student organizations, fraternities, sororities and various University programs to arrange group service projects.
“WVU plays such a major role in our community and our community plays such a major role on campus. It is our commitment to put our students out there and give back to the community,” White said. “We want to engage the students, faculty and staff as much as possible.”
Each year, the Center promotes a theme to encourage the University community to volunteer. For the 2010-11 school year, the theme will be “Take Action. Get Involved.”
For more information on the Center and the various volunteer opportunities in the Morgantown community, visit http://cce.wvu.edu/.
By Colleen DeHart
WVU News and Information
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CONTACT: Brett White, Center for Civic Engagement
304-293-8761, ext. 33481, Brett.White@mail.wvu.edu