Catawba College promotes volunteerism

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 10, 2011

By Tonia Black-Gold
Catawba College News Service
Volunteer Catawba is hopeful that a free T-shirt might serve as both an enticement and as a reminder for members of the campus community to make a commitment to serve others during this academic year.
To date, more than 400 of the T-shirts, imprinted with “Catawba Cares: One campus. One community. One world.” have been distributed to faculty, staff and students on campus. The initial demand for the T-shirts was so great that Volunteer Catawba ran out of several sizes and had to order another batch for distribution beginning Friday in Leonard Lounge of the Cannon Student Center.
Volunteer Catawba asks that in exchange for the free T-shirt, the wearers agree to devote at least four hours to community service. Volunteer Catawba plans to assist those who receive a shirt by matching them with service projects that fit with their expressed areas of interest. T-shirt wearers, however, need not wait for a Volunteer Catawba sponsored event to begin serving others. Individuals, clubs and teams are encouraged to actively seek opportunities to make a difference.
According to Jay Laurens, Coordinator of Outreach Programs at Catawba’s Lilly Center for Vocation and Values, the idea for the free T-shirts tied to a commitment of service came from Catawba students who work as student coordinators for Volunteer Catawba.
“Initially we were looking at giving out T-shirts after people completed volunteer work,” Laurens said, “but then it dawned on us that it might be more effective to distribute them in advance as a way to encourage and remind people to give of their time and energy to benefit others. The T-shirts are also a great way to spread the word that the impact of the collective Catawba College community extends well beyond the boundaries of our campus.”
Laurens noted that service projects coordinated through Volunteer Catawba provide assistance to such organizations as Rowan Helping Ministries, the Lutheran Home at Trinity Oaks, American Red Cross, Stop Hunger Now, Habitat for Humanity, and Johns River Valley Camp. Last spring, Catawba College volunteers also traveled to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to help tornado victims there with clean up efforts. The 15 students who traveled to Alabama were the first to wear the “Catawba Cares” shirts.
“Service is very important to our campus community. In fact, it’s one of the four virtues emblazoned on our college seal,” Laurens said. “The more we (students, faculty and staff) foster the habit of giving back by volunteering, the better our campus, the surrounding community, and the world in general will be.“
Volunteer Catawba’s student coordinators for this year are Jessica Gaskill, Jackie Hodgson, and Aubrey Barton. Barton believes that volunteerism provides students with unmatched learning opportunities.
“By reaching out to others, we learn so much about ourselves,” Barton said. “It’s ironic that we get so much from the simple act of giving, but it’s true.”