Weekly bowling with Camp New Hope in need of volunteers

Hannah Shillo, Staff Reporter

The Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism at Eastern has partnered up with Camp New Hope for a weekly bowling event in Charleston.

Beth Gillespie, the interim director of the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, said that while Eastern and Camp New Hope have had a partnership for a couple of years, the bowling partnership is a brand-new program starting this fall.

“One of the things that our office does is offer our students a chance to volunteer six days a week,” she said. “Most of those volunteer opportunities are two hours long, so we were exploring what new programming we could add to the schedule this fall.”

Gillespie said the department met with Camp New Hope and found out that they bring their campers to Charleston once a week for bowling.

“They said they are always looking for help to score the games and to support their campers as they’re playing,” she said. “So, we said, ‘Sure, we will put that on our list and see what we can do.’”

The first opportunity to volunteer with Camp New Hope for bowling is Monday, Sept. 17, according to Gillespie.

“We can take three (volunteers),” she said. “So, there will be a total of four because we will send one of our staff members.”

Gillespie said she tries to send a staff member each time volunteers go out so there is someone present who knows what to expect, is a familiar face and can answer students’ questions if needed.

Alex Martens, a graduate assistant in the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, will be attending the first bowling event on Sept. 17.

“I expect that the volunteers are helpful but also enjoy what they are doing,” he said. “But (I hope) the people that we are serving are also enjoying it too.”

Gillespie said that volunteer opportunities like this one are a one-time service opportunity, meaning students are not pressured to make a commitment to come back each time.

One-time service opportunities, according to Gillespie, are great for students who need to meet a service expectation for a class, or for any student involved in a registered student organization, fraternity or sorority.

“We try to make it easy for students to come in and do some good,” she said. “And easily fit it into their schedule.”

Gillespie said students are always welcome to come back and volunteer as much as they would like to, and the office sees a lot of repeat volunteers when students find opportunities they love.

“Students see that they can have fun while doing some good and it doesn’t have to take all day,” she said. “They still come back and stay focused on classes and enjoy time with friends, but still go out and do some good for the world.”

Martens said he believes volunteering is important because it gets students out of the “bubble” they live in at Eastern.

“You see your friends all the time,” he said. “When you volunteer, you see a different part of the community, and that can be a good thing because you start to realize that there are things outside of your ‘bubble’. I think that gives volunteers a new insight on life and the people they are helping.”

Gillespie said that students can sign up online at www.eiu.edu/volunteer in 15 seconds or less, and that online registration is the preferred method for two reasons: places like Camp New Hope can only take so many volunteers, and the office provides transportation, so they need to know how many volunteers are registered for each event.

“We’ve got our fingers crossed that this is going to be a good partnership,” Gillespie said. “And a good opportunity for our students to get involved and do some good.”

Hannah Shillo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].