COC promotes service learning, civic engagement through volunteer fair

Joshuanna Lapplapplander signs up to be a volunteer with local dog shelter New Leash on Life during College of the Canyons' volunteer fair on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Twenty-six organizations from across the Santa Clarita Valley gathered at College of the Canyons (COC) Wednesday to participate in the second Volunteers in Action Fair.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for students.  It’s a really nice way to find out what’s going on in the community,” said Patty Robinson, faculty director of civic engagement and community engagement initiatives.  “It’s helping us also because we really are trying to take service learning to the next level.”

The event, hosted by the Office of Service-Learning and the Associated Student Government (ASG), showcased a variety of non-profits and promoted community-based learning and volunteer opportunities locally.

Kim Arredondo, program coordinator for the Office of Service-Learning and event organizer, said the college reached out to organizations and invited them to speak to students at the volunteer fair.

“Most of them have participated in the past; however, every year we get new members that participate and this year we have five new organizations that are on board with us,” she said.

Christina Smith, an employee with the city of Santa Clarita’s recreation division, said the city invites students to volunteers with all of its programs, from preschoolers to seniors.

“We’re a great place to work and very student friendly,” she said.  “It’s easy for students to volunteer with our flexible volunteer schedules.”

Gabby Vera, a volunteer engagement employee with the city of Santa Clarita, said students often volunteer at special events like the Santa Clarita Marathon and last week’s Cowboy Festival.

“We are here trying to spread the word about how residents can get involved in volunteering,” Vera said.  “A lot of people who are new to the area volunteer to learn more about the city.”

Nikki Hamilton, a COC student, expressed her interested in working with organizations that support animals and children.

“I’m here to see what’s going on in Santa Clarita,” she said.  “I used to volunteer a lot in my own community but now I don’t live there.”

Through volunteering, Robinson and Arredondo hope students get more involved with service learning and participate in civic engagement.

“That’s the whole emphasis of what we’re doing here to have this be a part of how we can give back,” Robinson said.

Many students who have participated in service learning in the past continue to work with organizations after their service learning projects are completed.

“I know that there are students who have participated in student learning and have talked about what a great experience it is for them,” Robinson said.  “They get to see certain things that make their learning real.”

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_


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