My mother says in order to become a better person in life, you have to give back.
Volunteering is an easy and effective way to give back to your community. There are many different ways to get involved, such as working with a local animal shelter, the elderly or local clean ups. For WSU students, a way to start volunteering is through the Center of Civic Engagement. According to the CCE website, the mission of the CCE is to promote important relationships and engage with the campus and community to accomplish worthwhile improvements in society.
Sandra Kelly, Community Programs Coordinator for the CCE, talked about the CCE and what they do.
“It really is all about helping students engage within their communities,” Kelly said.
Kelly said her grandmother volunteered often and she would tag along on her volunteer experiences.
She said that volunteering is not a chore for her but it is an act of good faith.
“It’s just the right thing to do, that sense of ‘I should be doing something for others,’” Kelly said.
Kelly said that the CCE focuses on this statement and has a wide range of opportunities in order to do something for others.
She says the CCE will do a pre- and post-event reflection before and after volunteer events. This helps the CCE but also helps an individual learn what they enjoy doing and do not like to do.
Kelly said that COVID has posed a huge amount of difficulties that the CCE has learned to adapt to. An example of their adaptation is giving virtual museum tours to the local elderly. She told me that WSU students sign up as tour guides for these virtual tours, which benefits the elderly and students.
“Not only were we reaching with senior citizens, but we were able to connect our WSU students and give them an opportunity to also connect with the seniors by giving a virtual Smithsonian tour,” Kelly said.
If you want to volunteer but do not want a huge commitment, that’s okay! Every little bit helps. Kelly used the example of students volunteering to hold kittens and socialize with them. Though it is a small task, it is important.
“They’re calming these cats and teaching them that people are good. They’re teaching them how to love and when you look at it in that context, it’s a really important thing,” Kelly said.
If you want to volunteer but don’t know how to get started, Kelly recommends sitting down and thinking about the things that you enjoy doing and see if you can apply your passions to volunteer opportunities.
“I think honestly, the biggest key to volunteering is to find something that you enjoy,” Kelly said.
If you are interested in volunteering, Kelly recommends contacting her through the CCE website or taking a look on Givepulse.com, an online website full of local volunteering opportunities. For Pullman locals, the Rotary Club is also a great way to get involved in volunteering.
Jess Downs, Pullman Rotary Club president for 2020-21, explained that the Rotary Club in Pullman is a chapter of an international organization, which provides the opportunity for many different types of community service.
“It’s focused around a lot of different avenues of purpose. One of the things that’s really attractive about it is you get to work on different things, and different projects that vary in scope,” Downs said.
When the Rotary Club started, it worked to help individuals affected with polio. Not only do they have volunteer opportunities, but they also raise money for polio awareness and other causes.
Downs said when he moved to Pullman originally in 2016, he wanted to help make his new hometown greater.
“When I moved here, what was really important to me was to be part of the community. I think it’s great to have a service club, really engaged community service and just actively trying to make our community better,” Downs said.
Downs said he has a “personal philosophy” in regards to volunteering.
“The best way to live a satisfied and engaged life is to have an impact outside yourself, service to others. It’s such a great way to invest in making the world a better place and to have a purpose in your life,” Down said.
If you are interested in the Rotary Club, Downs encourages readers to reach out, which can be done through their website.
“We’d love to involve ourselves with people and be engaged with people who are the same. We always welcome people,” Downs said.
Downs told me that the Rotary Club is doing small community service opportunities, even in this time of COVID. There is also a chapter on the WSU campus, the Kiwanis Club and the Lions Club.
There are many ways to get involved in community service. Maybe it’s pet care, Meals on Wheels or a local clean-up. Every little bit helps not only your community, but helps better someone’s life, and I think that gift is extremely precious. You can’t put community service hours on that.