Representatives from more than 30 community organizations attended the University’s first community service fair. Organized and sponsored by the Campus and Community Service Committee of UTC’s Freshmen Senate, the fair introduced students to volunteering opportunities in the Chattanooga area.
“When we were initially discussing how to educate students on local volunteering opportunities, the idea of an on-campus fair made the most sense. Students could easily visit and talk to several organizations at a time on their way to lunch or to their next class,” Jay Nguyen, member of UTC Freshmen Senate and chair of the Campus and Community Service Committee, said. “The goal was to raise awareness for all the great local organizations out there who need our help, and to make UTC’s presence more known to the community.
Nguyen, who has volunteered in the Chattanooga community since he was in high school, continues to regularly help local organizations after class and on weekends. He urges his fellow students to also volunteer their time.
“In today’s economy, college students need to be well-rounded. Getting a diverse experience in college means broadening your horizons. Getting out of the classroom and into the community is a great way to do that,” he said.
Participating organizations at this year’s fair included the Orange Grove Center, Northside Neighborhood House, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga.
Dan Rust, a volunteer coordinator at Signal Centers, a local organization focused on assisting persons with disabilities, early childhood education and self-sufficiency, attended the fair to help recruit new volunteers.
“Volunteering is a great way to give back, especially to the most vulnerable populations in our community,” he said. “We have students who are majoring in social work or special education come volunteer with us to get work experience, but we also have students who just volunteer to have fun. They play games or make crafts. Volunteering doesn’t have to be boring. You can have fun and get a great experience out of it too.”