Volunteer fair provides students off-campus opportunities

Cyrus Huncharek

As one of their many volunteer initiatives, the Longhorn Center for Civic Engagement held a volunteer involvement fair on Wednesday where organizations encouraged students looking for a way to give back. 

A few of the organizations involved were AmeriCorps, the Girl Scouts, YMCA, Austin Film Festival and the child support division of Attorney General Greg Abbott. The fair was organized through the efforts of the Longhorn Center for Civic Engagement to bring together student and volunteer options outside of the University with a community impact. 

“Some students who volunteer are exploring career opportunities and others simply just want to help their community which is a reflection of UT as a whole,” said David Galvez who works for the engagement center.

There is a push by the engagement center to incorporate service into curriculum at UT. 

“One of the pillars of the civic center is to transform courses into service-learning, right now there are 22 academic disciplines that use the service-learning method,” Pinchett said.

Pinchett said an example of such a course was an accounting class that filed tax returns for low income Austin residents which ended up bringing in $31 million in returns. 

“There is also a Spanish class in which students work closely with ESL students with the hope of getting their English more proficient,” Pinchett said.

“The center is essentially a database that compiles organizations which offer community service opportunities for students” said Nancy Vasquez, a sophomore who works at the center.

Katie Pritchett, the civic engagement coordinator and Educational Administration graduate student, said a large number of UT students do volunteer work.

“74 percent of the student population volunteers, which is more than the turnout for each football game,” Pinchett said. 

The type of volunteering that students engage in follows no specific pattern or field.

Galvez ssaid there are a variety of organizations and clubs with which students volunteer.

“The Longhorn Center for Civic Engagement is affiliated with hundreds of organizations and there is a myriad of opportunity ranging from youth outreach to hospital work,” Galvez said.

The Center — and their initiatives including the fair —  link students to organizations that interest them and allow them to then practice those interests in the real world.

“We think of ourselves as a bridge for UT students looking to volunteer,” Galvez said.