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SMC fair to offer service opportunities to students

| Friday, September 4, 2015

Saint Mary’s will host a service fair in the Student Center Friday between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., which will feature different organizations offering a variety of volunteer opportunities for students.

The director of the Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) Erika Buhring said she started the Service Fair in the fall of 2014 to provide “an environment for students and community agencies to connect with one another.”

“The primary reason a service fair was started was to draw volunteer-minded students, staff, and faculty together in order to connect them with organizations that were in need of their assistance,” she said.

ServiceFair_Graphic WebJanice Chung | The Observer

According to Buhring, organizations that will be present at the fair include Hannah and Friends, St. Margaret’s House, She’s the First, Students Supporting Autism, the South Bend Center for the Homeless, Food Bank of Northern Indiana, Take Ten, the American Red Cross and the Jesuit Volunteer Corps among others.

“Integrated within the mission of the OCSE is the notion of developing a bridge for the Saint Mary’s community to connect with the Michiana area while also fostering a sense of social responsibility towards others as they participate in civic engagement,” she said. “The Service Fair certainly promotes these ideals.”

Buhring said the Service Fair differs substantially from the Involvement Fair, which was held earlier this year by the Office of Student Involvement. 

For one thing, she said the Service Fair is held the second week of school as opposed to the first week so that students have a chance to become familiar with their schedules before signing up for volunteer opportunities. Additionally, Buhring said the Service Fair focuses on bringing outside agencies to campus instead of exclusively promoting on-campus groups.

However, she said together the Service and Involvement Fairs serve to help students become involved on campus.

“The OCSE sees that the Service Fair and the Involvement Fair are complementary towards one another. By having both, individuals have the opportunity to learn about so many different types of activities and volunteer work available to them.”

Buhring said the Service Fair also encourages faculty and staff as well as students to participate and find opportunities to volunteer.

“This fair constructs the space for fostering conversations that in turn allow each participant to learn more about opportunities that might be a solid fit for them,” she said. “Volunteer placement success rates are increased due to interactions at the Service Fair.”

Saint Mary’s stresses the importance of service and provides students with opportunities to get involved, Buhring said. She said through the Service Fair, students can conveniently learn and follow through on making connections with the community and with post-graduate organizations.

“The design of the fair is to assist students in making a strong match to an opportunity that they might otherwise not be aware of,” Buhring said. “The size of the fair allows for students to be able to talk individually to the representatives from the organization, but also allows them to see the breadth of choices available to them.”

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About Nicole Caratas

Nicole is a senior English Writing and Humanistic Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. Now a senior news writer, she previously served as the Saint Mary's Editor. She was born in real Chicago but grew up in the suburbs, and she currently lives in Opus Hall.

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