Other colleges' orgs. make volunteering a focus

by Kelly Cameron | 11/21/00 6:00am

College campuses seem to be a center of volunteer activity. From the Big Brother Big Sister program, popular at Dartmouth and beyond, to opportunities to knit hats for the homeless and work with children, college students are being encouraged to get out and do their parts to help others.

While Dartmouth is not unique in its focus on volunteerism, the Tucker Foundation's role as an umbrella organization for both volunteering and religious groups stands out.

Amherst

The Community Outreach Program at Amherst College was formally created in 1986 by students and has expanded since then to include a full-time paid project coordinator and a newsletter.

Outreach offers "Amherst Against Food Waste," an organization that delivers leftover food on campus to local shelters. Also under the Outreach Program, "Listening to Our Bodies" is a group that educates the campus about self-esteem and image-related issues, including eating disorders.

Amherst also uses its academic curriculum to encourage community outreach. One of the college's introductory chemistry courses works with a local environmental organization to study groundwater pollution, and the "Reading, Writing, Teaching" course allows students to tutor Holyoke High School students and lead them in discussions about books. The interdisciplinary nature of the courses helps encourage an active volunteer community on campus.

Princeton

The Student Volunteers Council at Princeton University oversees most campus service opportunities by helping various student groups to organize activities. Almost 25 percent of students do some kind of service each year, some once a year and others on a regular basis.

At Princeton, popular activities include Big Brother Big Sister -- a favorite at Dartmouth as well -- and weekly trips to the St. Francis Inn homeless shelter in Philadelphia.

Middlebury

Middlebury's Volunteer Services Organization oversees most of the community service options at the college, but several other individual groups on campus volunteer separately. The VSO is not as large as the Tucker Foundation and is still gathering support and recognition on the Middlebury campus. A cappella groups and former Girl Scouts are some of the outside groups that volunteer.

Middlebury celebrated its bicentennial this fall in part by giving the Page One Program as a gift to the community. The goal of the program is to give everyone in the area access to free books and to promote literacy. Close to 200 students signed up to help read books to children at local schools and libraries.

The Big Brother Big Sister Program is also popular at Middlebury, although its name there is "Community Friends."

Harvard

Harvard University has two main volunteer groups, run under the Harvard Public Service Network.

The Phillips Brooks House is a Harvard administrative resource building for students. It provides funding for public service opportunities, advice on how to create programs on campus, and assistance in setting up connections between students and various organizations.

Harvard also offers a program called HAND, or House and Neighborhood Development, which runs tutoring and mentoring programs. Branches of the organization are set up in each of the 12 residential houses at the university.

Williams

The Lehman Community Service Council at Williams College oversees a wide variety of activities. Students have many opportunities to work with children, through education and tutoring as well as mentoring. Williams also offers opportunities for them to take part in local Boy and Girl Scout troops.

Williams students also volunteer to make recordings of written texts for the blind and dyslexic, and they use their creativity to help the homeless with "Hats for the Homeless." That group brings students together to knit hats for people in the area.

Williams offers help with service trips for students' time away from the college. The Service Council works with Breakaway, a national organization, to plan community service trips and locate funding.

Weekly activities at Williams include Saturday Service Projects that allow any student to show up for the task of the day. The weekly event encourages involvement without a large commitment.