Five ways to become involved in the community

Giving back to the community is a great way for college students to add on to their resume, gain leadership and teamwork skills or even just do something productive in their free time.

Eastern Michigan University programs, like the Honors College or the McNair Scholars Program, require their students to engage in a certain amount of community service hours.

Getting involved and lending a helping hand doesn’t need to be as complicated or time-consuming as some people may think. Here are five easy ways that you can earn community service hours either right on campus or not too far from it.

1. VISION Volunteer Center: The VISION office is located in room 346 of the Student Center. It is a very convenient way for students to get involved and they have a few different programs to choose from. They have ongoing opportunities that include just single-day events or activities that you can earn learning beyond the classroom credit for.

VISION also has mentoring and friendship programs including Kid Konnection Pen Pals and Best Buddies. The pen pal program lasts all year and students are able to write back and forth with elementary students from Ypsilanti public schools. Best Buddies is an opportunity to develop a friendship with a person who has an intellectual or developmental disability. Alternative breaks are also an active way to give back and get involved with issues that are important to you. You can contact the VISION office at (734) 487-1313 or email them at vision@emich.edu.

2. Humane Society of Huron Valley: If you are a big animal lover and you would enjoy spending time playing with some cats and dogs then this volunteer opportunity may be just what you’re looking for. The volunteer program is based on their “PAW Level Program.”

According to hshv.org, “Each PAW level allows you to learn new skills and knowledge to gain a deeper understanding of the functioning of our shelter and the care we provide for our animals.” PAW I consists of becoming familiar with the staff and shelter for your first five weeks by helping clean, do laundry, and work events. PAW II allows volunteers more hands-on training. PAW III and PAW IV is when volunteers can then become “experts” in animal handling and the pet adoption process. The Humane Society of Huron Valley is located in Ann Arbor at 100 Cherry Hill Rd. You can reach their office at (734) 662-5585.

3. Growing Hope: Growing Hope is an organization that focuses on helping people improve their lives and communities through gardening and healthy food access. This opportunity may be well suited for those students who are passionate about the environment. Volunteers there are able to get dirty and help in the actual farming and gardening process at their Growing Hope Center, they can help out in the offices, or at the Ypsilanti Farmers Markets. You can visit growinghope.net for a full list of their volunteer positions and committees. You can also email their volunteer coordinator at volunteer@growinghope.net.

4. Autism Collaborative Center: If you like working with kids or people with special needs then you can get involved with the Eastern Michigan University Autism Collaborative Center. They work to serve individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and related neurodevelopmental disorders of all ages and ability levels. If you spend a lot of time on campus then this is also a good option for you because it is located within walking distance of campus at 1055 Cornell Rd. The center allows students to observe and volunteer while learning from professionals in the field. It offers a variety of different programs and events for families. You can contact the center at (734) 487-2890 or email at autismcenter@emich.edu.

5. Ypsilanti District Library: If you consider yourself a bookworm and you would prefer to volunteer in a quieter environment, then you could go help out at the Ypsilanti District Library. Tasks available for volunteers include raising funds to support the library, helping sort donated books, working at the book sale held three times a year, or taking a shift in the Friends Shop. You can download the volunteer application form at ypsilibrary.org. For more information about becoming a volunteer, call (482) 4110-1371.


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