SERVE Local expands opportunities for volunteers in Lamoille County

SERVE Local, previously called SERVE Fri, has changed its model this semester to allow more students the opportunity to volunteer in the community.

SERVE Local has replaced SERVE Fri in an attempt to reach out to more volunteers who may not have previously been able to attend events because of the times when events were held.

Prior to this semester, each volunteer opportunity took place on a Friday, and due to the increase in Friday classes, there was also an increase in conflict with students’ schedules.

For this reason, the number of participants kept going down.

“There were some Serve Fri’s with some really great opportunities, really great volunteer opportunities, that people just weren’t coming to,” says SERVE Graduate Assistant Tara Robinson, “and through asking around and paying more attention to when classes were being offered we realized that not only with the economy people were working more, but also that more and more classes were being offered on Fridays.”

When SERVE Fri started, according to Robinson, there were a very limited number of classes offered on Fridays, so there weren’t many conflicts in schedules besides possibly sleeping in.

Robinson joked that because the SERVE Fri program did run all day, it’s possible that people just didn’t want to get up that early on a Friday.

To solve this problem, Director of Student Activities & Community Service Krista Swahn, in coordination with Robinson, decided that they needed a change.

It was determined that the former SERVE Fri model didn’t fit the needs of the students anymore.

So now, rather than finding local non-profits that could work with its model and needs SERVE Local is going to help out with volunteer opportunities that are already established in the community.

This allows students to volunteer any day of the week, rather than just on Friday.

“We have the community meal the second and fourth Wednesday of the month,” says Robinson. “There’s just a better variety of times and availability for students to be able to get involved.”

This past fall the SERVE office came up with a variety of new opportunities such as gleaning with the Vermont Food Bank and Pete’s Greens, where volunteers harvested what the farmers didn’t need anymore and donated that harvested food to the Food Bank.

Volunteers also participated in a Lamoille River clean-up, and even cleaned up Babcock Nature Preserve in Eden.

This semester, a number of events have already been planned, and that list is always growing.

One of the first SERVE Local events this semester was the Lake Elmore Polar splash, which occurred Feb. 9 and raised proceeds for the Morrisville Rotary Club, and the Lamoille Community Food Share.

Other upcoming events include the Howard Center Curling Challenge, Relay for Life on campus, Stowe Derby, a blood drive, trying to work with the Johnson food shelf, the annual drop-and-swap, which Robinson and Swahn are trying to expand to include furniture, and Mardi Gras in Burlington.

The main goal is to get students involved and, on occasion, feed the community.

Since the community meals began in town, JSC has been a part of them, and from the start ARAMARK food services had donated all the food, a tradition Sodexo is continuing.

There aren’t necessarily JSC students volunteering at every meal, but there is always a Johnson State presence.

Now SERVE Local is really trying to market the community meal as a volunteer opportunity along with volunteering at the Johnson Food Shelf on Railroad Street.

SERVE is always looking to partner with them to create more volunteer opportunities for students. They only have a small group of ladies who volunteer there, and student involvement may help offer up more hours for the food shelf to be open for community members who need its support.

For more information about upcoming events, students can contact Tara Robinson in Stearns 408, or at [email protected], as well as Krista Swahn at [email protected]