The option for lending a helping hand around Millersville’s campus and surrounding community has never been more accessible.
The Office of Civil Engagements works with students to provide volunteer opportunities with various companies and organizations in the area. The process for obtaining a community service project is straightforward.
Students can begin by either stopping into the Bedford House, which is located directly across from the Student Memorial Center, or going to the Civil Engagement website. This website can be accessed through the Millersville University homepage.
Once students decide they want to volunteer, the website provides a “Volunteer Central”. No preparatory action is needed for students to attend their appointment with the Bedford House.
“When coming in for an interview, all you need is your class schedule, along with when you have free-time,” said Audrey Lilley, from AmeriCorps VISTA. “No pre-gathered information is needed.”
Lilley started working in the Bedford House in August of last year.
Students can make an appointment, weekdays between 8:30 to 4:30. An excel spreadsheet of agencies around the area is gone through on a student-to-student basis.
You will also be asked your major, class standing, and how much time you feel can be devoted towards your volunteering project.
Lilley then goes through the various organizations and helps students decide which would match up with their specific interests and goals.
Getting on Google allows students to see exactly where their organization’s interests are, as well as what their missions are through volunteering.
There are currently three students working through the office projects that are lasting one year. Jaime Reist, Lindy Keefe, and Brandy Jackson are students at Millersville University who are taking the extra step to help their community.
Sophomore Jaime Reist is one MU student that has actively taken an interest in volunteer opportunities at Millersville.
Reist primarily volunteers with Second Mile, a free program that is attended by children mostly from kindergarten to junior high.
As student coordinator, Reist is an integral part of organizing the activities and materials for the program.
Once a month, sometimes twice, children from downtown Lancaster can come to Brooks Gym on MU’s campus for crafts, food, and various other activities. This program is only a two hour event, hardly a huge commitment.
Many of the children that attend are recommended by teachers and counselors if they are having trouble in school socially, or are from low-income families.
“I love kids to begin with,” said Reist. “The kids are great. It’s a fun thing to do.”
As an education major, Reist not only has the opportunity to help out with the children, but she is also learning valuable skills for her career in education.
One of the qualities about Second Mile that make it a special experience, according to Reist, is the fact that volunteers are paired with one of the children to look after as a mentor.
Some of the children have been paired with their volunteer for a few years, making a connection that doesn’t have to dissipate over the years.
On Sunday, January 25, the latest Second Mile gathering took place in Brooks Gym for a fun-filled afternoon. As each event has a theme, this particular event was a swimming luau, which also treated the children to pizza after the swimming.
Before going to the Bedford House, Reist was helping with Second Mile, but was not very involved.
“Since I’ve been hooked-up with the Bedford House, they’ve been sending me emails about opportunities and I try to do as many as I can,” said Reist.
In addition to genuinely enjoying helping others, Reist will be receiving $1000 towards her tuition for completing 300 hours of volunteer work in one year. This is a perk MU offers through AmeriCorps for students that want to help their community.
“It’s not really why I’m doing it, but it is a nice little addition to my financial aid,” said Reist.
Reist is no stranger to volunteering; she was raised volunteering with a donation-based, Christian ministry program devoted to helping families. Reist and her family have been helping the community for several years.
“Where there’s a need we just help out as much as we can,” said Reist. “It’s really cool.”
Students are always welcome to stop into the Civil Engagement office to pick up information about local businesses, which have volunteering options.
Students might be required to obtain clearances through Harrisburg; although these are only required for students wanting to volunteer with children or the elderly.
These clearances may cost money, but most agencies will pay the money for the students.
On April 4, “Into the Streets” will take place. “You can sign up as individuals, or in a larger group of friends,” said Lilley. This day of community service will allow students to be matched up with agencies around Lancaster.
“All you have to do is show up and give a little time,” said Reist.