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Nonprofits seek volunteers at UNG's annual fair

More than 270 UNG students, faculty and staff have volunteered with Junior Achievement of Georgia since the 2018 opening of Mike and Lynn Cottrell Junior Achievement (JA) Discovery Center at North Georgia. JA of Georgia is scheduled to participate in the annual Volunteer Fair on Oct. 15.

Since the opening of the Mike and Lynn Cottrell Junior Achievement (JA) Discovery Center at North Georgia in 2018, more than 270 University of North Georgia (UNG) students, faculty and staff have volunteered with JA of Georgia.

"These volunteers have helped our middle school students as they learn about what it means to be a part of an economy," said Kyle Redner, director of volunteer experience and partnerships with JA of Georgia.

For this reason and more, Redner plans to attend UNG's annual Volunteer Fair for a third time.

"We rely on volunteers to bring real-world relevancy to our students," he said. "This fair is a great opportunity to connect directly with students and professors about those opportunities."

For the first time, the Volunteer Fair will be conducted virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 15, on UNG Connect. Faculty and staff may speak with nonprofit representatives from 10-11 a.m. Students may join the forum from 11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. Then individual 15-minute appointments with nonprofits will be available until 2 p.m.

"Students, faculty and staff may speak with nonprofits during the open session, which mirrors the in-person event," said Dr. Carly Redding, director of academic engagement and associate professor of sociology and human services. "They can select an appointment time to meet one-on-one with a nonprofit."

More than 30 nonprofits from counties including Barrow, Clarke, Hall, Lumpkin, Oconee, and White, have confirmed their attendance. Their missions range from homeless shelters and mentoring programs to health care and volunteer groups.

Steve Williams, global membership team coordinator for the Lions Club, is excited to attend the event for the first time. The 1986 UNG alumnus said the fair is a natural fit for the Lions Club, because it is the world's largest volunteer service club.

"By volunteering, UNG students would have the ability to develop their leadership skills, participate in different programs and learn how to project manage," Williams said.

He said UNG students also could start a Lions Club on campus, launch a branch organization or join an established Lions Club in the area of UNG's five campuses.

Bobbi Larson, director of economic development and community engagement at UNG, pointed out all five UNG campuses joined forces to host a single volunteer event. Previously, the annual Volunteer Fair was held at the Gainesville Campus while the Oconee and Cumming campuses sponsored similar events. This collaborative effort had added benefits.

"We got more nonprofits involved," said Dr. Sarah Young, associate director of academic engagement and assistant professor of political science.

Redding said more students may attend since it is virtual.

"We have students who attend the Dahlonega or Gainesville Campus, but they live in Oconee County. They want to work and intern there," she said. "This virtual fair will provide them with the chance to find an internship or volunteer opportunity in their home county."

Lynette Croy, program coordinator at Family Promise of Hall County, said she currently has two UNG students working as interns. She also credited UNG's Volunteer Fair with a handful of volunteers since she has been with the agency.

"A couple of years ago, we hired one of the students for a part-time position," Croy said. "It was a win-win for us both."

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