Fair provides students with volunteer opportunities

Spinning the wheel and getting information at one of the tables at the fair.
Spinning the wheel and getting information at one of the tables at the fair. Reta Nemesszeghy / The Watchdog

On Tuesday, May 16, Peer to Peer and Tiered Mentoring organized a volunteer fair, bringing several non-profit organizations from the Puget Sound region to Bellevue College. In the BC cafeteria, students could learn about the many volunteer opportunities each organization offered.

A representative informing a student about his organization.
Reta Nemesszeghy / The Watchdog

Organizations such as HopeLink, American Red Cross, Outdoors for All, Pacific Science Center, Full Life Care, Vision House and Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank set up tables in the cafeteria with pamphlets and information regarding available volunteering opportunities.

people at the volunteer fair
Reta Nemesszeghy / The Watchdog

“We have a lot of different volunteer opportunities for the summer because we have a lot going on with camps and all of our wonderful summer programs,” said Karin Pierce, volunteer engagement manager from the Pacific Science Center. The Pacific Science Center offers three primary volunteer opportunities during the summer, the Tinker Tank Maker Space, Science Interpretation Program, and the Guest Ambassador Program “You can test your own rocket, gravity board, wind tunnels,” said Pierce about the Tinker Tank Maker Space. “It’s kind of a design and engineering exploration space that we have and it’s staffed almost all by volunteers.” At the Pacific Science Center table, there were many moving circuit activities on display that were created in the Tinker Tank Maker Space. The Science Interpretation Program is also looking for volunteers to be interpreters of the exhibits and the Guest Ambassador Program is looking for volunteers to guide guests through the science center. Additionally, people who volunteer for over 30 hours are eligible for membership at the center.

Another organization was Full Life Care, where volunteers “care for adults and elders who have chronic illness and disabilities,” said Lindsey Ismailova, who operated the Full Life Care table. Some volunteer opportunities that Full Life Care works with are ElderFriends, AmeriCorps and Adult Day Health. ElderFriends is a volunteer companionship where volunteers “go to an elder’s home just to spend time with them,” explained Ismailova. “We have an AmeriCorps team with 18 members who do national service full-time for a year, kind of like Peace Corps, and then Adult Day Health is […] kind of like a daycare and senior center, so volunteers help with the activities during the day.”

Volunteer Coordinator Megan Edwin of the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank explained what positions they were offering. “We serve 400 families or households each week,” said Edwin. “We volunteer six days a week, client facing or not client facing. We also have a cool harvest program that’s just up and running again. With that, what we do is the farmer’s market circuit.” The farmer’s market circuit consists of volunteers staffing food bank booths outside of markets all day and encouraging shoppers to buy a little bit more food to donate to the food bank. At the end of the market day, volunteers collect the donations, as well as the produce that supermarkets cannot sell. “We bring that back to the food bank and turn it around real fast. What we collect Wednesday night goes out Thursday morning, and those are all volunteer opportunities,” explained Edwin. “We also have a picking program, so there’s 114 community fruit trees that we’re allowed to pick, and we take picking crews out pretty much as soon as there are fruits on the trees and we bring that back to the food bank.”

The Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery had volunteer opportunities for docents. “We have a lot of students who come to the hatchery [and] we have a lot of visitors from different parts of the world that come to the hatchery,” said Chanda Gogna, FISH volunteer and communications coordinator. “So  [students] can actually […] show them how the hatchery works.” There are also outreach opportunities where volunteers can go to events and talk about the hatchery.

Peer to Peer also offers volunteer opportunities for students on campus. Peer to Peer is a student-run leadership and support program that organizes many programs and events on the Bellevue College campus. “If you have an event and want people to help you, you can contact us and we’re going to contact volunteers on campus,” explained Eunice Lubemba, Peer to Peer member.