On Tuesday, November 22, Bellevue College hosted a volunteer fair to “help students find volunteer and internship opportunities that will enhance their skill sets and resume and expand their networking options,” according to the college website. The website explains that the aim is also to connect the BC campus “with the surrounding community and foster a spirit of service.” This volunteer fair occurs once each quarter in the BC cafeteria.
Cathy Thruelsen, a BC outreach representative and supervisor for the volunteer fair, said that “this program has been around for at least five or six years. Some students have volunteer hours required for graduation and this helps them fulfill those hours. These charities put students in connection with other students and involve them in the community and allow them to mingle with others from completely different backgrounds and life experiences.”
At the fair, representatives from various charitable and civic organizations spoke to students and faculty about their mission to help the community. The tables were organized around the perimeter of the cafeteria, allowing each group to showcase its history, mission and volunteer or civic opportunities.
Justine Crumley, office and volunteer coordinator for Vision House, said that “this event raises awareness more than gets volunteers,” while Jacob Tobis, the director of operations for Rainier Athletes, said that “we probably get about ten people interested in volunteering every time.”
A June 2013 report by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that promotes volunteerism, found that jobless individuals who volunteered had a 27 percent better chance of finding a job than those who didn’t. The study tracked more than 70,000 jobless people over a 10-year period.
The Volunteer Fair was open for anyone at BC but is mostly tailored towards students. From politics to homelessness, special needs to wildlife conservation, tourism to law enforcement, poverty to underserved communities, there are charities and organizations that match each student’s interests.
The organizations and charities participating this Quarter included: Bellevue Young Life, Congressman Adam Smith, Crisis Clinic, Eastside Legal Assistance Program, Hatchery, Friendship Adventures, Full Life Care, Highland Community Center, Hopelink Mobility Management, Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank, Jubilee Reach Administration, the King County Sheriff, Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center, Neighborhood House, Omaha Visitors Center, Peer to Peer Bellevue College, Rainier Athletes, Redmond Parks and Recreation, Seattle Aquarium, Teen Link, The ARC of King County, The Sophia Way, Treehouse for Kids, UNICEF, Victim Support Services and Vision House.
Students looking to get involved in helping the community and building their resumes can individually contact any of these charities or attend the next BC volunteer fair in the spring.