Recently, I came across an article in the Nonprofit Quarterly conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics within the U.S Department of Labor which explains that volunteer rates are at a 10-year low. I found this information hard to believe, especially with communities such as Stonehill College where volunteering is an integral part of the campus culture. When you delve into the survey by age group, you find that Stonehill students (ages 20-24) fall into the category of lowest volunteer rates out of all the groups at 18.5%. Stonehill students volunteer on a regular basis because there are so many ways to get involved.
Stonehill is unique because of the different programs that we have available on our campus; it is hard to find someone who hasn’t done at least one activity that included volunteering. Just a few of the opportunities include Into the Streets, H.O.P.E. trips, The Farm at Stonehill, Community- Based Learning courses, and the Stonehill Service Corps. The majority of Stonehill students will participate in at least one of these amazing opportunities! I worked with the Big Brother Big Sister program for a semester, worked on the Farm as part of my learning community, and just recently returned from a H.O.P.E. trip to West Virginia. The opportunities that Stonehill provides are incredible experiences that I would encourage every student to take advantage of!
For anyone reading this that does not know what a H.O.P.E. trip is, let me fill you in. A H.O.P.E. trip is the alternative spring break service immersion program at Stonehill College. It allows students to spend the week of spring break traveling all around the country and the world to serve others in solidarity. H.O.P.E. stands for Honoring our neighbors, Organizing for justice, Practicing peace, and Encountering God. I can honestly say that this is a very accurate description of a H.O.P.E. trip because I felt that all these elements were present throughout the week. The focus of our trip was about sustainability and talking about environmental issues that impact the Appalachian region. Throughout the course of the week, we were able to learn so much about the people and the issue of companies controlling the natural resources in the area. The biggest take away that I had while on my H.O.P.E. trip was the importance of community. Wheeling, West Virginia has some of the most connected and committed people I have ever met, always making sure that everyone is taken care of the best that they can.
There are so many different ways that people can make a difference in their communities, service and volunteering are incredible ways to do so. I believe that the students at Stonehill already have that knowledge and have been putting this lesson into practice with all the incredible volunteering. H.O.P.E. trips and other local volunteering opportunities are a great way to learn about nonprofits. Every nonprofit is different and they all have an important presence in the communities that they serve.
For more information on the topics mentioned, please visit the following links:
U.S. Labor Department Survey: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/volun.pdf
Stonehill Volunteer Opportunities: http://www.stonehill.edu/community-global-engagement/service-and-outreach/
Wheeling, West Virginia: http://www.wheelingwv.gov/aboutwheeling.php
Meghan Rosenberger ‘15
CNM Resource Room Intern