SGA sponsors service fair in Commons

Photo by Brooke Marsh.

Janeal Downs
Staff Writer

About 20 different organizations participated on Thursday in the first VCU Student Government Association service fair in the Student Commons.

Representatives from service organizations spoke to students at the fair about volunteer opportunities around campus.

Junior psychology major Brianna Leonard was one of the many students searching for volunteers at the event. As a representative of the Black Psychology Student Association, Leonard said the group thought the event would inform students about the organization.

“I feel like you have to build up your community,” Leonard said. “I didn’t realize until I got to college that volunteering and giving back … (is) a really good feeling.”

The Black Psychology Student Association does community service such as tutoring and food drives, Leonard said.

AmeriCorps at VCU, another organization present at the service fair, has volunteered with children in kindergarten through third grade in the Richmond Public School system.

“We’re a service organization and we’re looking to find really the best students that are out there,” said Jenny Callear, program director of VCU AmeriCorps.

The group has worked for 19 years to improve literacy, Callear said.

“This is where you get your real world experience that is going to help you develop as a student and as a professional,” Callear said. “It kind of keeps you going and keeps you motivated to know that you’re helping kids.”

Other organizations present at the fair included Sports Backers, Friends RVA, SPCA, VCU GLOBE, Sportable, Emerging HealthCare Leaders and representatives of the VCU Intercultural Festival.

Students logged 723,000 hours of community service last academic year, according to the VCU Division of Community Engagement website. SGA president Vikhyath Veeramachaneni said the SGA is trying to help president Michael Rao achieve his goal of reaching 1 million volunteer hours in the academic year 2013-14.

“Not just to assist at that mission and that effort, but also you get some sort of great benefit (from volunteering) you don’t necessarily get going in,” said Veeramachaneni, a senior political science major. “(What) SGA wanted to do was provide those opportunities for students.”

Though Veeramachaneni said it was difficult to get many local nonprofits to commit to the event, he said there were some job opportunities as well at the fair.

“Whether you end up volunteering for them, or they provide a connection to you to go somewhere else and work, I think it’s great and it’s a great way to get to know the city of Richmond better,” Veeramachaneni said.

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