Student groups join to promote volunteerism

Janette Neuwahl

For the first time, Associated Student Government and two of Northwestern’s largest service groups are teaming up to showcase off-campus service opportunities for students.

Sponsored by ASG, OASIS and Northwestern Community Development Corps, the first Community Action Fair from 4 to 7 p.m. today will bring more than 74 service organizations to the Louis Room in Norris University Center.

“It’s important that students burst the bubble that exists between Evanston and Northwestern,” said ASG President Rachel Lopez, who conceived the joint event during her Spring Quarter campaign.

In addition to displays from sites NCDC and OASIS visit weekly, the fair will include NU student organizations such as Alternative Spring Break, Habitat for Humanity and Medical Supplies Mission, among other Chicago-area charities.

“NCDC has done volunteer fairs in the past, but this is the first year in conjunction with ASG and OASIS,” said Laurie Jaeckel, co-president of NCDC.

Jaeckel, Lopez and Darren Kinkead, co-president of OASIS, began planning the event together in August along with ASG’s Ben Cherry, external relations chairman, and Joel Richlin, campus public relations chairman.

Of its 15 Chicago-area sites, OASIS will showcase 13 organizations they service weekly, said Kinkead, a Weinberg senior.

Student site leaders will accompany representatives from each organization, so participants can choose to volunteer with a group of NU students.

But the fair will not be limited to OASIS and NCDC sites. The organizers put together a list of about 20 additional organizations that students can join and wrote letters soliciting their attendance at the fair.

“Our goal is to open a lot of doors for the Northwestern community to the greater Chicago area,” Kinkead said. “We chose some other agencies located on the West and South sides of Chicago where Northwestern students don’t go too much so we can have a diversity of organizations.”

Cherry echoed Kinkead’s goals but hopes more organizations will participate next year.

“We have the hope that in the future it will grow into something much larger with more organizations not already affiliated with NCDC and Oasis, but I’m definitely happy with the way this year has turned out,” said Cherry, a Weinberg junior.

Some of this year’s outside organizations will include Natural Ties, an Evanston organization that brings together people with disabilities together, and Daniel J. Nellum Youth Services, a Chicago-based organization that helps keep teenage boys off the street.

In coordinating the event, OASIS and NCDC focused on representing their service organizations and ASG handled advertising, said Jaeckel, a Weinberg senior.

But all three groups expressed the hope students attending the fair will become more aware of things they can do outside of campus boundaries.

“We want students not only to go to these sites but to take their volunteer experiences back to campus to promote more empathy and bring up issues that students are encountering through their volunteer connections,” Jaeckel said.