For the fourth year, the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Gainesville Campus will host a Volunteer Fair to help students find opportunities to serve the community and gain experiences not available in the classroom. The event is open to students of all UNG campuses.
The fair will be held Sept. 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building on UNG's Gainesville Campus.
Service learning and civic engagement are key areas of UNG's mission, and the Volunteer Fair helps students connect with new opportunities. Dr. George Danns, professor of sociology at UNG, has coordinated the Volunteer Fair since its inception and knows the benefits it offers his students.
"We have programs on campus that require students to complete service-learning hours and internship programs related to their majors. This event connects them with community members to fulfill that requirement," Danns said.
More than 50 national and local organizations participated in the event last year, including the American Red Cross, the Humane Society, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, and the Hall County Sheriff's Department. Volunteering also creates networking systems for students, and how that has led to more post-graduation job opportunities for them, Danns said.
"For example, criminal justice students learn valuable job skills when they work with the sheriff's department," Danns said. "The sheriff's department increases their trained workforce by mentoring potential new officers at a low cost, and the university benefits from the positive relationships that are forged. Our students become ambassadors for UNG."
Other UNG campuses also are connecting students with local service opportunities. Students on the Dahlonega Campus regularly work with 30 businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies. There are nine on-campus organizations that are strictly service-based, and at least 12 other organizations participate in philanthropic service programs as part of their larger focus. UNG hosts events such as Project C.A.N. Do which benefits three local charities: the Community Helping Place, Georgia Mountain Food Bank, and Southern Finds (NOA). During the first weeks of classes, students participate in the First Saturday of Service, which this year had a record turnout of more than 250 student volunteers who visited 15 locations around Lumpkin County.
"Volunteering in the local community is a reciprocal experience where you actually see the effect you are having as a student and a global citizen," said Jennifer Cohen, coordinator of Greek life and community service on the Dahlonega Campus. "You become more engaged with your community. You are able to recognize a need in the community and address it, and often the volunteer will get even more from the experience than the person who is being helped. Volunteering opens your eyes to a new experience or gives you the chance to walk in someone else's shoes for a little while; you may even learn a new skill."
This year, UNG President Bonita Jacobs will be addressing participants in the Volunteer Fair, which is organized by the UNG Nonprofit Development Club.
For more information about the Volunteer Fair, the UNG Nonprofit Development Club, or volunteer opportunities in Gainesville, contact Dr. George Danns, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about volunteer opportunities in Dahlonega, contact Jennifer Cohen at email@example.com. For more information about student involvement on the Oconee Campus, contact Stacie Rowley at firstname.lastname@example.org.