By Zac Wilberg
The Montgomery College Service Learning and Volunteer Fair, which took place this Tuesday, exhibited the wealth of volunteer opportunities that are available to MC students. There were tables lined up in the HT building where representatives could discuss their organizations, ranging from the Manna Food Bank, to the League of Women voters and more.
Joan LeFever, the Student Life Specialist at Montgomery College, discussed the purpose of the event. “One thing is that it helps them get connected with different programs,” she said. “They can find out if they have an interest in something, and/or if they don’t have an interest in something. It can guide them to see if it’s something that they really want to do or not.”
One of the organizations at the event was the Animal Welfare League of Montgomery County, a no-kill shelter that takes in cats to be adopted. Located in Old Town Gaithersburg, the shelter currently houses around eight cats, but has at times hosted close to 20.
Nancy Farrar, a representative of the AWL, explained what volunteers can do to help. “A lot of people come into our volunteer program initially as part of ‘Cat Crew’, which is the morning and evening thing where people come in and feed, water, change litter boxes, and clean the shelter,” she said. “It winds up being flexible in the sense that it’s what you have time and availability for.” Beyond saving cats, the AWL also has programs for spaying and neutering dogs and cats, as well as a food bank for the pets of low income families.
The BlackRock Center for the Arts was also at the fair. It hosts many different events, classes, and exhibitions throughout the year. These include live events like plays and concerts, as well as two galleries for art exhibits. People interested in volunteering at the BlackRock Center have a wide range of options, from helping at the front desk to assisting with performances and greeting visitors at the galleries.
Another group at the fair was So What Else, a Rockville-based, nonprofit organization that focuses on group development and giving children in the Baltimore-Washington area a healthy environment to go to after school and during the summer. Volunteers often consist of students who are looking to get Student Service Learning hours, but also include other people who are interested in giving back to the community.
Renee Gilkes, a representative for the group, talked about the importance of kids having somewhere to go after school: “Because a lot of them… They just go home. They don’t have any guidance. [So What Else] is a way to open up their mind and to help them get into something positive,” she said. “It teaches them to want to give back to others.” Types of activities include STEM, yoga, environmental science, and more.
Students interested in volunteering can look into the Volunteer Club on campus or visit the official page here: https://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/edu/department2.aspx?id=16489