Local organizations provide UWRF students a chance to give back
February 25, 2015
It’s no secret that volunteer work looks good on a resume.
It could even be the one thing that sets someone apart from another candidate in a job hiring process one day. In addition to volunteer work looking good on paper, it’s even good for one’s mental and physical health.
According to Harvard Health, volunteering helps people to feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression. Volunteering can even lower blood pressure and lead to a longer lifespan.
“Volunteering: you don’t need to have money, you just need to have an able body,” said UW-River Falls senior Zac Russell.
With so many benefits it may seem like a no-brainer that UWRF students should get involved with volunteer work at some point in their collegiate career. But trying to balance school and work can be a challenge and adding volunteer work on top of that may seem impossible.
Luckily though, there are various organizations around the River Falls area for students to get involved in that don’t require major time commitments.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Wisconsin (BBBS) and Turningpoint for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence are just two of many organizations in the River Falls area that provide volunteer opportunities to students.
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides mentoring friendships by matching an adult with a child and helping them form an enduring friendship. Students have the opportunity to serve as volunteers to mentor youth in the community.
“Students are well received by the children and their families as mentors,” said BBBS Program Coordinator Lisa Thompson.
By volunteering with BBBS, students will work with a professional team that is nationally recognized for making a difference in the life of a child.
“There are many ways to give to the community and few are as rewarding as the friendship that develops with a child,” Thompson said.
In order to volunteer with BBBS, one must submit an application, interview and complete training. Volunteers are asked to spend an hour a week and continue in the child’s life for at least a year from the time they are first introduced.
One student that has been actively involved with BBBS is sophomore Kamyn Peterson-Rucker who currently serves as the president for “Friends of BBBS.”
“Part of the reason why I chose to volunteer with BBBS over other organizations is I like to work with students, knowing that my time is really all that I have to give in order to make a difference,” Peterson-Rucker said.
Another organization that students can get involved with is Turningpoint, which has been providing services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in Pierce and St. Croix counties for over 30 years.
Volunteer opportunities for students within the organization include: client services, assisting with support groups, cleaning, maintenance, office work, babysitting, stocking food, helping with donations, outreach, and working at “Second Chances.”
Second Chances, a second-hand store located on Main Street, is an extension of Turningpoint where 100 percent of the proceeds benefit the organization.
“Turningpoint needs student volunteers because we value the skills and talents students have, as well as their commitments to education and community,” said Volunteer Services Coordinator Javin Hintz.
By volunteering with Turningpoint, students can learn valuable information related to domestic and sexual violence along with taking pride in knowing that they are giving back to the community and helping those in need.
“It is easy to get lost in the busy life of a student between classes, homework and the many other demands from life in general, however, volunteering enables students to share their skills with others in a way that is truly meaningful,” Hintz said.
Time requirements to volunteer with Turningpoint depend on both agency needs and volunteer schedules. Turningpoint will work with students to try and match their interests with the agency needs in a schedule that works for both parties.
In order to volunteer, a student doesn’t need to give money or have a certain set of skills, they just need to be willing to give their time and provide goodness to the community.
“As far as River Falls, you’re going to school here, they’re providing you an education and helping you get through school, so why can’t you help give back to them?” said junior Tara Schrauth.
For more information about various volunteer organizations in the River Falls area, go to tourism.rfchamber.com/list/category/non-profit-organization-54.