Volunteer opportunities at Case Western Reserve University run the gamut. Whether you want to tutor local youth in math and science or spend time with elderly residents at a nearby nursing home, there are countless ways to get involved. While the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to traditional in-person service opportunities for our students last year, the 2021-22 academic year promises many of the same experiences that predated the pandemic, along with some added opportunities.
The Center for Civic Engagement and Learning (CCEL) has arranged for opportunities to meet students’ varying comfort levels with getting back out in the community. For example, students can work toward Civic Engagement Scholars—a program through which students complete at least 30 civic engagement hours over the academic year—requirements by participating in on-campus service projects, civic education programming, virtual opportunities and more.
CCEL’s mission extends beyond connecting students to volunteer opportunities, too. The staff seeks to make students engaged and informed citizens through political involvement, advocacy and philanthropy. With time away from traditional activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, CCEL’s staff took time to lean into those efforts and have reemphasized their Social Change Series, which highlights different types of civic involvement.
For those not ready to venture into the community in person, there are other ways to get involved, whether through virtual opportunities arranged through CCEL or by engaging in other activities.
“The pandemic has reinforced the importance of relationships, community, and the interconnectedness we all share,” said Betsy Banks, director of CCEL. “Our well being is tied to others and small things can make a big impact; so think about where you can make a difference, even in small ways.”
Banks suggested activities such as “donating to an organization with a mission you believe in, registering as an organ donor, helping students make their voices heard through voting (CCEL’s Voting Outreach Team is accepting applications), or contacting elected officials about issues you care about.”
It’s also an ideal time for students to consider exactly what impact they want their service to have on others and dive into learning more about the community.
For those comfortable with going beyond campus, Banks encourages considering participating in a CCEL Serves program, such as volunteering with AdvantageCLE to work with youth, Seeds of Literacy to assist adults working to complete their GED, MedWish to sort medical devices to be delivered to developing countries and more. Learn more about CCEL Serves.
“CCEL works with wonderful community partner organizations who are committed to the wellbeing of both community members and volunteers,” Banks said. “We have had lots of communication with them throughout this challenging time. Like us, the organizations have developed protocols to mitigate COVID risk.”