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Nonprofits connect with students at Volunteer Fair

UNG students, faculty and staff searching for service-learning and volunteer opportunities may meet with more than 50 nonprofits during the annual Volunteer Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 19, on UNG's Gainesville Campus.

Jennifer Young believes she was put on Earth to interact with students and provide them service-learning opportunities locally, nationally and internationally.

As founder and executive director of Ardenti Global Service Learning, she accomplishes her goal by connecting University of North Georgia (UNG) students with real-world opportunities. For example, students pursuing teacher education degrees can get experience in a Belize classroom.

"They get to work in a classroom with professional teachers, and then they work in the after-school program that I founded three years ago," said Young, a 2017 UNG alumna.

Young meets these eager students and potential interns at UNG's annual Volunteer Fair. The 2019 Volunteer Fair will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, in rooms 3110 A and B of the Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building on UNG's Gainesville Campus. A preview hour will be 10-11 a.m. for faculty and staff to talk to the organizations for service-learning opportunities for their students.

The Volunteer Fair is open to students, faculty and staff from all campuses. No fair is scheduled on the Dahlonega Campus.

 UNG's Oconee Campus had its volunteer fair Sept. 4.

More than 50 community organizations plan to participate with at least 20 new to the event. This number is larger than in years past. About 30 organizations registered in fall 2018.

"We have a lot of new organizations coming this year from all over north Georgia," said Dr. Carly Redding, interim director of academic engagement at UNG and organizer of the fair. "Some are coming from Cumming and Oconee County."

Redding, associate professor of sociology and human services, attributes some of the increase to students pursuing degrees in human services delivery and administration (HSDA). She said several HSDA students have been placed within organizations for internships and practicums and exhibited their talents.

"It's made a lot of organizations interested in coming here to recruit future students," Redding said.

A few organizations planning to attend include Family Promise of Hall County, Hall County Public Defender's Office, Athens Neighborhood Health Center, Quinlan Visual Arts Center and Books for Keeps.

Lynette Croy, program coordinator at Family Promise, said they have had good luck by attending the Volunteer Fair.

"We hired a non-traditional student who we met at the Volunteer Fair in 2017," she said. "She came on board as the coordinator of our life program and worked here part time until she accepted a full-time position at UNG."

Paula Lindner, assistant director of Quinlan, said the art gallery always gets at least one intern from attending the fair. The current intern is a UNG student.

"She is taking pictures of our exhibits, placing them on our website and posting them with captions on Facebook," Lindner said. "She is also straightening up our supplies from Art Camp, which otherwise would be in disorder."

Lindner said without the interns and student volunteers, the Quinlan staff would be pressed to perform all of these tasks.

"As a nonprofit, we don't have extra money to hire people to do these things for us," she said. "But with our student interns, they can learn a new skill to put on their resume and we have the additional help we need. It's a win-win for us."

Justin Bray, program manager with Books for Keeps, said their nonprofit literacy program offers volunteer opportunities year-round for students.

"A unique piece of what we do is it is always different from day to day and week to week," he said.

Redding said once the students volunteer, they continue throughout their college and professional careers, Redding said. Young agreed.

"I have what I call repeat volunteers," Young said. "And that speaks volumes about the students at UNG."

2019 Volunteer Fair

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19; Preview hour 10-11 a.m.

Where: Rooms 3110 A and B in Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building, 2571 Mathis Drive, Gainesville, Georgia

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