The service learning and volunteering program at Pierce helps the community, raises awareness and earns students credits that are transferable. Katherine Lindberg, community engagement coordinator, has been working at AmeriCorps VISTA since Dec. 1, 2012.
“What AmeriCorps does is it assigns these paid volunteers to whatever community members or organizations really need help,” Lindberg said. “So it’s a very intense year where you’re working 40 hours a week for a very minimal amount of money.”
Service learning and volunteering has community assistance tied into the student’s curriculum while learning with hands-on experience thereby, according to Lindberg, providing valuable aid. Not only does it look great on a transcript or resume, but also contributes to society in the process. It ‘s proven that 73 percent of employers will hire applicants with more volunteering than work experience.
With at least 20 organizations being helped thanks to this program, it’s difficult to calculate exactly how many are aided by service learning and volunteering programs. Community organizations such as the Communities in Schools, St. Leo Food Connection and The Rescue Mission are having more student involvement from Pierce. Lindberg says that even a few hours of help at the nonprofit organizations makes a huge difference.
“Since there are three campuses it’s tough to keep track how many nonprofits are gaining student volunteers. We have so many organizations that are actively having Pierce College students helping them out,” Lindberg said.
This past year the service learning and volunteering program had a homogenous student turn-out. With more faculty members raising awareness of the importance of service learning and volunteering there is a constant growth of student volunteers each year. Lindberg’s experience with the program she describes as wonderful and a successful concept, saying that she had never known how beneficial service learning and volunteering could be to a student’s curriculum until she saw the outcome of the program.
“Before I became an AmeriCorps member I don’t think I was aware of just how important volunteering was,” Lindberg said. “I tried and tried to gain as much work experience as possible, but have learned of the benefits that volunteering has when looking for a career.”
With Pierce volunteers working hard to connect with the community from all three campuses, the community is working just as hard to keep in touch with Pierce and student volunteers that are giving a helping hand. Volunteering is dedication toward a cause, causes that employers find beneficial and the sort of qualities they seek in their employees.
“I view my time spent at Pierce as rewarding,” Lindberg said. “I value the connections made with students and the community, as well as being able to watch students make a difference in the community is worth it all.”
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