By James PuckettCommunity service is a way to experience the real world through hands-on volunteer work. Volunteering can have a meaningful, positive impact on your community. It also brings together a variety of people for a common goal of giving something back to the community by serving.
The Student Leadership Institute at UH-Clear Lake will host Community Outreach Day Feb. 11. The event includes projects on campus and off. Projects during the event run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Community Outreach Day is an event that teaches students leadership by serving the community. It also offers students the opportunity to meet other students and staff at UH-Clear Lake while participating in community service projects.
SLI has been sponsoring Community Outreach Days since 2002. More than 360 students, staff, faculty and alumni have participated in this event. "Attendance varies each semester . . . we expect at least 75 people to attend this semester," said Jennifer Clark, coordinator of Student Life in the student life. Attending students will learn by hands-on experience leadership through service.
Volunteering for community service has intangible benefits. It can help you break down barriers and fears, misunderstandings, and help you explore your own personal issues. It also gives you the chance to make a meaningful contribution back to the community.
"Community Outreach Day is learning outside the classroom about leadership by serving the community. . . It is important because it gets students engaged in the learning experience of community service . . . it's about getting into our society and making a difference," said David Rachita, assistant dean in the Student Life Office.
There are four service projects students may participate in during the event. They are the Facilities Management and Construction Department, Habitat for Humanity, Houston Food Bank, and First Book.
FMC is an on-campus project that starts at 8 a.m. and ends at noon. Participants should wear clothes appropriate for working outdoors including work gloves and work shoes. Activities in this project include trash pickup, clearing nature trails, and painting parking lot D.
Habitat for Humanity starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. Habitat for Humanity is a Christian organization that works in partnership with volunteers who donate their time and skills to build affordable housing for people who need homes.
Students participating in this event will be working off-campus at a warehouse in Baytown cutting trusses for the next two houses to be built or they will be painting the interior of a house. Participants should wear clothes suitable for construction work and arrive early.
Students who plan to take part in the Habitat for Humanity activities should meet at the front of the student entrance to the Bayou Building at 6:45 a.m. The van will leave promptly at 7 a.m. and return at 1 p.m.
Houston Food Bank is a nonprofit organization that gathers food and donations and distributes them out to local charitable programs such as battered women's shelters, church food pantries and homeless food shelters. The project is an off-campus project and starts at 8 a.m. and ends at noon.
Participants will work at the HFB warehouse sorting food or in the repackaging department breaking down bulk items into smaller portions. Participants should meet in the front of the student entrance to the Bayou Building at 7 a.m. The van will leave promptly at 7:15 a.m. and return at 1 p.m.
Last, but not least, is the First Book service project. It is an on-campus event that starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. This project is planned by UH-Clear Lake's Association for Childhood Education International in partnership with First Book, a national organization that provides books for low-income families.
This year, 200 children are expected to arrive from all over the Houston area at 11 a.m. The children will enjoy a variety of fun activities like creating books, story-telling, science experiments, and meeting book characters such as Clifford the Big Red Dog. Participants will be trained from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the different activities planned for the children.
"All of the events planned during Community Outreach Day are a great way for students to learn leadership skills through community service and have fun doing it," Clark said.
Students interested in volunteering should keep in mind that potential employers pay attention to your life outside the classroom. Your extracurricular activities reveal a lot about you. They are interested in knowing what your interests are, your priorities, your commitments and what you can bring to the community.
"Community Outreach Day is an invitation for new students to work along side continuing students, alumni, staff, faculty and other community members to gain a sense of building a community and being part of something . . . One can gain a reward of personal gratification in being able to make a difference in the community," Clark said.
Students interested in participating in any of the events can join Community Outreach Day by registering in the Student Life Office, SSCB 1.204 or by contacting Clark at (281) 283-2611 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.