National Volunteer Week, which kicked off in Ithaca last Friday on the Commons, wraps up 10 days of events and projects this Sunday. The nationwide showcase of volunteerism, in its 29th year, fosters community service activities with this week’s theme: “Celebrate the American Spirit.”
Major events of National Volunteer Week include today’s Red Cross Dance-a-Thon, a 24-hour dance fest held at Helen Newman Community Center beginning at 8 p.m. A pizza party will start the event at 7:15 p.m.
Additionally, a “duck race” will be held on Sunday. Participants purchase “rubber duckies” and enter them into a race on Fall Creek. Proceeds will go to charity.
The event is sponsored locally by On Site Volunteer Services (OSVS), a student-run nonprofit organization which works with other agencies in the area to create volunteer opportunities for students at Cornell and Ithaca College and local residents.
“I think it’s been an overwhelming success,” said Kyle Youngquist ’02, director of marketing for OSVS. “I think we’ll have about 300 volunteers which will come down [by Sunday].”
For the event, OSVS holds one volunteer project each day of the week, according to Youngquist. In the two weekends of the event, there are five or six projects planned each day with approximately 15 people each, for a total of about 25 projects for the whole week.
“I’m very pleased with the projects that we’ve been involved with this week,” said Erin Brannan ’02, executive director of OSVS. “We’ve been able to get a diversity of individuals involved in a wide variety of projects in the community.”
“We do this on a weekly basis,” Youngquist said. “Just by trying to have this blitz during the week, it promotes the cause.”
Other projects include working with local agency Crossroads, which helps international students adapt to life in Ithaca. OSVS volunteers provided labor and landscaping help for a barn purchased by Crossroads to be converted into a social center. Other projects are the beautification of the Commons and a partnership with Historic Ithaca.
An on-campus program also involved with National Volunteer Week is the Language Expansion Program (LEP) at the Public Service Center in Barnes Hall. LEP volunteers use their language skills to help interpret or translate in emergency and non-emergency situations.
“We want this to be a community initiative, not just a Cornell University or Ithaca College initiative, because that’s what it benefits,” Youngquist said.
As one of the many volunteers this past week, Jessica Erickson ’05 collaborated on a project with other students. A member of Cornell Tradition, which works with OSVS, Erickson volunteered at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market along with support from the 4-H Club. There, she and others did projects with children such as making photo frames out of popsicle sticks and creating recycled paper.
“Especially when we head out into the community to do a volunteer project … it’s an immediate dose of perspective,” she said. “There is a world beyond Cornell.”
Additionally, Erickson said, meeting the other volunteers is a perk of the job.
“The people that I meet who are involved … are just the most amazing, enthusiastic, motivated bunch of students you’ll ever meet,” she said.
When National Volunteer Week ends on Sunday, however, volunteers at OSVS will continue working.
“National Volunteer Week, from the perspective of our agency, celebrates what we do on a weekly basis,” Brannan said.
Archived article by Andy Guess