Calling all volunteers: Expo brings together agencies, people
by DELANEY WALKER, Banner Staff Writer
Sep 13, 2012 | 1217 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS and Cleveland State Community College combined strengths to sponsor this year’s Volunteer Expo at CSCC’s gymnasium. From left are Susan Webb-Curtis, director of service-learning at CCSC; Sherry Holloway, service-learning coordinator; Tanya Southerland, GRAAB Coalition director; and Chelsea Long, resource director at The Caring Place. Banner photo, DELANEY WALKER
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Cleveland State Community College and Bradley County’s Community Advisory Board joined together to host Wednesday’s Volunteer Expo.

“It was a really strong collaboration on the part of CAB and Cleveland State,” said Tanya Southerland, Going Respectively Against Addictive Behaviors Coalition director. “Cleveland State has been one of the most productive and valuable partners in the service-learning experience.”

The planning committees first met in January. By April the process picked up speed. Cleveland State took care of marketing to include inviting Cleveland residents and neighboring communities.

“The purpose of holding the event is to give an opportunity for students, faculty, and our community at large to come in and meet some of our community agencies that support the area,” said Sherry Holloway, CSCC service-learning coordinator. “This also allows the agencies to get to know some of the people who are willing to volunteer.”

Agencies lined their tables side by side in the Cleveland State gymnasium. Representatives from numerous organizations talked to CSCC affiliates and members of the community.

“I would just like to emphasize collaboration,” Southerland said.

“Absolutely,” Holloway agreed.

Organizations handed out pamphlets as students walked from table to table signing up to be volunteers. These agencies included, but were not limited to: the Salvation Army, the Alzheimer’s Association, GRAAB Coalition, The Caring Place, The Greenway Table and more.

The expo began as a way to educate Cleveland State students on volunteer opportunities.

“We have a service-learning program,” Holloway said. “The volunteer expo arose from our program because we expect our students to go out into the area and volunteer, serve, and learn about the community.”

“This way they can walk around and see some of the agency workers. At the same time, all these agencies have an opportunity to try on these students. It is like a mini-interview experience.”

Faculty members at the expo often look for potential partners to incorporate service-learning into their curriculum. Much like the partnership between CAB and CSCC.

“CAB co-sponsored with us this year and it worked out really well,” Holloway said.

“Yeah,” Southerland said. “We even see this as a long-term relationship. Something we can keep coming back to year after year.”

Southerland said plans have already been made for next year’s Volunteer Expo.

“We are already known as being a community of volunteers in light of the [2011] tornadoes,” Southerland said. “We want to keep the momentum going. We do not want people to volunteer only when a tragedy has occurred.”

Both women hope volunteering becomes a year-round commitment to the residents of Cleveland and surrounding areas.