Mesa Community College’s (MCC) biannual Volunteer Fest was hosted in the Navajo Room for students all around campus to find the business they want to volunteer with. From Jan. 30 and 31, the Center for Community and Civic Engagement brought together a room full of government agencies and nonprofits looking for eager and willing students to dedicate a few hours to them. Services spanned from helping with campaigns to just tutoring here at MCC. “Some students are in a class where their instructors are having them do what we refer to as service learning. Service learning is an academically based community service. The best way people learn is by doing it, by being hands-on and those instructors realize it,” said Center for Community and Civic Engagement Program Specialist, Dawn Rhodes.
Many of the students who were at the festival had never volunteered anywhere before. Criminal Justice major Mackenzie Jansen is one of those students. “This is my very first-time community event at the community college. I just transferred her from Flagstaff and the community college I was attending was Coconino Community College and there were maybe 700 people at the school so this didn’t even exist,” she said. “I want to make a difference in other people’s lives without having to be getting paid because it’s not about the money, it’s about the happiness and the impact that you make on other people’s lives.” Another student, Matthew Constantine, is also new to MCC and was skeptical about community service at first.
“I’ll be honest at first I was in my CRE class and [my professor] we were going to do 15 community service hours and I was not a fan of it at first. But for me, being the New Yorker I am, decided to push through and I got here and I actually meet a couple of interesting organizations and it did kind of change my outlook on things. Instead of looking at it from a negative point of view it’s definitely become more positive and I would now say I would look into it even if it wasn’t a requirement,” he said. While these students roam around the Navajo Room, learning about various organizations that they would want to volunteer their time at, many of the organizations there have had a long past with MCC and their students.
Boulder Mountain Therapy, an organization that works with autistic children, has been working with MCC for 8 years and have had many MCC students go through their business and make a strong impact on them. “We do offer MCC students to do group projects and through the years we have had excellent projects that have been completed, a lot of work parties where they have painted, trimmed trees and it has been a delight to have [MCC] collaborate with us to make our facility a little bit better and bigger for the kids that we serve,” said Jann Goodman, Physical Therapist and Owner of Boulder Mountain Therapy. Volunteering can also get a number of scholarships for their community service hours.
Currently, there is a scholarship named the “Community Engagement Scholarship” that will give any student who has completed a maximum of 50 of the 100 community service hours a $500 scholarship. The Red Mountain campus will also be hosting their own Volunteer Fest on Feb. 7 from 9 a.m. to noon.