Colorful tables, refreshments, eager organizations and curious students filled up the Student Center Ballrooms on Wednesday, March 29, where the Volunteer Center’s fifth annual Community Service Fair was held at Montclair State University.
While the fair had been taking place at Montclair State for half a decade, this year’s event brought new activities, organizations, breakthrough programs and students to the fair.
To encourage active engagement with every organization, the Volunteer Center decided to include a puzzle-themed scavenger hunt provided to each participant.
The goal was to fill out a yellow puzzle sheet with secret words provided by each table-coordinator at the fair. By the end of the hunt, each participant was left with information from every table and a completely filled-in sheet. Those who completed their puzzle and discovered the phrase made out of the combination of words, then had the chance to put their sheet in a raffle to win a Fitbit.
In addition to new activities, fresh faces also appeared at this year’s fair in significant numbers.
Mackenzie Rowe, the service-learning coordinator for the Volunteer Center, said that “over half of the organizations at this year’s fair are new to our university,” giving a fresh face to the event and new opportunities for service.
The appearance of these new faces also left her in high spirits for the future, projecting that new organizations will help expand the fair in following years, ultimately making community service a larger part of what makes Montclair State a well-rounded campus.
One organization in particular wanted to bring attention to ongoing women’s issues in our country with a new opportunity for Montclair State student volunteers this year.
The Montclair College Women’s Club (MCWC) had appeared at the community service fair once before, but decided to make a second appearance at this year’s fair.
Clare May, the Treasurer of the MCWC, explained that their organization, comprised of university women “raises money for scholarships, particularly for girls,” promoting equal education and equal pay for women in our society.
This time around, they brought a new opportunity with them to share with Montclair State students.
A summer program called Tech Trek, run by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), just opened up specifically for eighth grade girls to learn about their potential to get involved in STEM research.
The MCWC was eager to find volunteers to council the students participating in the camp, seeing this as a new stepping stone for women in the STEM industry.
“I believe that this camp will be a great tool in encouraging girls to follow their passion, regardless of what they are expected to do by the people around them,” said MCWC volunteer Jane Skibo. “We would love to have students from the university be a part of this new and exciting program.”
New students are also jumping on board this year, some of which attended the community service fair for the first time.
Commuter student Joanne Villavieja, a junior double-majoring in anthropology and linguistics, said that this was her first time attending this event. With word of new organizations arriving this year, she was curious as to see how she could get involved locally on her free time in between classes.
“I like making a difference in the community,” said Villavieja. “The instant feeling of gratification of knowing that you made a difference somewhere is truly amazing.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can stop by an information table held in the Student Center Lobby several days a week in addition to visiting the Volunteer Center in Student Center Room 104J.