Nonprofits and community-focused agencies set up camp Wednesday in Cleveland State Community College’s gym for the Make a Difference Now Volunteer Expo in hopes of gaining help for their causes.
CSCC service-learning coordinator Sherry Holloway called the annual event a huge success. Discussions with the various representatives revealed most felt positive about the turnout.
The crowds had a mixture of high school students, Cleveland State scholars and locals residents.
Most students were shopping for an organization they could work with to meet their service-learning requirements.
Cleveland State places a strong emphasis on students moving beyond volunteering.
“Service-learning takes community service one step further,” Holloway explained. “It is important for the college because it gives our students an opportunity to learn hands-on what they are learning in a classroom.”
Jean Angle, a volunteer with Cleveland for a No Kill City and Cleveland Animal Control, was very pleased with the interest generated for the no-kill cause.
“It is so much fun,” Angle said of the expo. “Just to meet people and get them interested, because Animal Control really needs help.”
No Kill works to save the 20 to 30 animals set to be put down each week. Volunteers go to the shelter each week to take photos of the dogs and cats. These photos are then uploaded to Facebook in hopes of finding each one a forever home.
Angle said the group needs more volunteers.
“First, it is saving a life. That is the most important thing, because we are still a kill shelter even though we are striving to be a no kill shelter. They just put down four last week,” Angle said. “There is obviously the personal reward of giving back and being able to help as well.”
Catherine Rice, executive assistant to the Family Resource Agency chief executive officer, received a lot of questions from students interested in volunteering with the Family Violence Program.
“They will do anything, [like] answering our hotline, which handles crisis calls and answers questions people have,” Rice said. “They could help over at the shelter. There are a wide variety of opportunities.”
She said those who stopped by her booth were interested in both volunteering and hearing more about the organization.
“I have been to a lot of expos like this and this is one of the most valuable ones,” Rice said. “A lot of people come throughout it, and they are interested in what we have to offer, not just in the little goodies.”
Kate Taylor and Jim Welch gave a list of activities volunteers can sign up for at the Salvation Army. These included the Jingle Bell Jog in December, ringing the bells for the red kettle, volunteering in the nonprofit’s kitchen every Sunday, working at Inman Street Coffeehouse and helping out with various youth ministries.
“We wouldn’t be able to exist without volunteers,” Welch said. “I would say that is the backbone of our organization.”
Added Taylor, “We love them.”
Co-sponsor representative Tanya Southerland, Going Respectfully Against Addictive Behaviors Coalition executive director, said many nonprofits and community agencies would not exist without volunteers.
“As funding strings are cut or reallocated, charitable foundations are not having as much money,” Southerland said. “[Organizations] have always depended on volunteers, now it is about finding the perfect platform.”
Southerland explained the goal of the event was to, “let the community and the student body of Cleveland State know of all of the opportunities available right in their backyard.”
Holloway gave thanks to the student, faculty and staff volunteers who helped make the expo possible.
She also had a special word for the agencies involved.
“Cleveland State would like to express our appreciation for the agencies who participated in the event,” Holloway said. “They helped make it the success that it was.”