Volunteer Fair provides student with a way to give back


AJ Fournier

Amber Salutric,a sophmore Speech Pathology and Spanish major, gets information about getting involved in Camp New Hope from a representative of the organization.

Domonique Hill, Contributing Writer

Over 30 people from over 70 non-profit organizations gathered Wednesday for the ninth annual Volunteer Fair hosted by the Civil Engagement and Volunteerism Office.

Some of the organizations in attendance were Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Service, the Mattoon YMCA, Camp New Hope, Community Blood Services of Illinois, Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity and Douglas Hart Nature Center, among other programs.

Interim Director of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, Beth Gillespie, said it is important for students to understand they can help in more than one way.

“It is important for our students to understand that their time is valuable,” Gillespie said. “Sometimes, you might have 25 bucks to give or a 100 dollars to donate to an organization, but even if you don’t, you can still make a difference.”

Latisha Owens, the Carle Hospital hospitality director, said this was her third time attending the fair.

“I am a graduate of Eastern Illinois University, and most of the time when you get someone that is interested they will engage with you,” said Owens.

Owens expressed her appreciation to students who volunteer.

“From a hospice perspective, five percent of all services have to be done by volunteers. If the hospices do not have volunteers to do direct patient care or work in the office to help accumulate hours, then what happens is the program closes.

There are some non-profit organizations that cannot function unless they have volunteers, she said.

“Some non-for-profits do not have the money to pay (and) stay open with people,” Owens said. “So, it is very important that people volunteer.”

Taylor Key, an intern at the Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Service, said there are numerous benefits of volunteering.

“If this is something you are passionate about, you really get to learn about it and see how it works,” Key said. “There’s a lot of experience you can get from volunteering or even just internships as well.”

According to Key, volunteering can be used to network as well.

“Volunteering is important. It can get your name out there, help you pull up friends and also expand your horizons,” Keys said. “You know? Get yourself into something that you never thought you may like.”

DaNaya Burnett, a graduate assistant for the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, said volunteering definitely changes people for the better.

“Once students realize what they are doing is helping and how much it’s helping then they come back, they always come back,” Burnett said.

Burnett said volunteering is something that is beneficial to most college students.

“I am a broke college student, I do not have a lot of money to donate to an organization but I do have a lot of time on my hands,” said Burnett. “I love helping people and I think giving back to your community, whatever community you live in at the time, or wherever you were born and raised is really important.”

Domonique Hill can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]