Students signing up for community service opportunities
Students signing up for community service opportunities
Nijat Sharifov

Volunteer Fair at Montgomery College Provides Students Community Service Opportunities

Participating in volunteering is one of the best things a student can do.  Public service teaches us compassion and empathy, as well as helps us build connections and have a sense of purpose. Young people who volunteer get inspired to become politically active, involved citizens who support positive change and take part in the democratic process. It motivates students to take up leadership roles in their communities and instills a sense of accountability.

Volunteer Fair. Montgomery College Rockville Campus. (Nijat Sharifov)

Montgomery College held a Volunteer Fair on Feb 21st in the Small Gym, located in PE 137. The Fair provided students with an opportunity to meet local nonprofits, learn about service opportunities on campus, and get informed about student service awards. All the recruiters provided help with the process of signing up and gave detailed descriptions of their respective organizations.

Students signing up for community service opportunities (Nijat Sharifov)

One organization, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT), informed attendants that traffic, metropolitan areas, and digital networks are just a few of the sectors where congestion presents serious risks and difficulties. In addition to air pollution, congestion causes environmental disturbance, noise pollution, and habitat disintegration. Congestion-driven urban sprawl aggravates land use problems, leading to the loss of open space and agricultural land.

MCDOT plans to tackle this problem using the help of volunteers: “Communal service has many different programs which are meant to promote the use of what we call micro mobility options as opposed to single occupancy vehicle usage. We look at the environmental aspect of using vehicles such as cars, buses and of course, the congestion which they cause.”

MCDOT also has events where they promote the use of these micro mobility options: “An upcoming event that we have is Bike to Work Day on May 17th, where we would love to have volunteers coming to different pit stops.” explains Kevin Obeke, recruiter for Montgomery County Department of Transportation.

MCDOT (Nijat Sharifov)

A community-based program through Montgomery Parks aims to engage volunteers of all ages including students to get involved outdoors. Programs and workshops on gardening, sustainability, and environmental protection can be held in public park gardens. This encourages eco-friendly behaviors and helps spread awareness of environmental and sustainable causes in the county.

As Emma Layman, a recruiter for Montgomery Parks emphasizes, “One of our programs is the community garden program, and within that we have a project where we grow fresh produce donations to local food assistance providers. A student can learn all about parks, working outside, landscaping, planning, there are a lot of opportunities to get outdoors and help other people enjoy being outdoors as well.”

Montgomery Parks (Nijat Sharifov)

Programs that distribute food to vulnerable groups, such as children, the elderly, people with disabilities, and the homeless, also benefit from volunteers. A nonprofit group called “SO WHAT ELSE” based in Montgomery County works to engage the community in working together to provide food recovery, distribution, and free after-school programs to school-aged children.

They are currently reaching out to Frederick and Baltimore Counties, as well as the Washington D.C. metropolitan region to help out with food distribution. As Richard Claros, a recruiter for “SO WHAT ELSE” explains,  “Right now we are really looking for volunteers to help out with our distribution, sometimes going close to 500 to 700 people in attendance. We need help with delivering food, helping with the line, parking, etc. The benefit of a student joining is connecting to your community and to be able to serve those in need and have a sense of a positive move as well as be a part of it.”

In summary, through the act of bridging the gap between volunteer opportunities and students, the Volunteer Fair benefited the community as a whole. It served as a catalyst for good, encouraging students to take an active role in spreading kindness and providing services.

Volunteer Resources:
Montgomery College Service Learning:

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