Thursday, August 11, 2022

VolHENteer newsletter connects students with opportunities

NewsCampus NewsVolHENteer newsletter connects students with opportunities

UDance 2015
Courtesy of Andrew Kuczmarski
SGA and BHLP connects students with volunteer and community service opportunities like UDance through their new initiative.


The Student Government Association (SGA) and the Blue Hen Leadership Program (BHLP) launched their first edition on Monday of VolHENteers, a bi-weekly community service newsletter aimed at informing the student body of volunteer opportunities available.

This service is the brainchild of Ellie Halfacre, SGA student affairs senator. She was inspired to make volunteer opportunities more accessible to students after working as a site leader at the university’s MLK Day of Service, she said. She heard peers complain about having difficulty finding volunteer opportunities on campus.

The problem is not the university’s lack of service opportunities, as there is an abundance of service RSOs, fundraisers and one-time volunteer events on campus, but rather a lack of a streamlined method of informing the public about these resources. Halfacre began researching the organizational strategies of approximately 20 other colleges and universities and found that a majority of them had databases, listservs or newsletters dedicated to community service initiatives.

Halfacre spent months working on developing an interface for a community service e-newsletter as well as on an instruction manual on how to maintain sustainability, though she struggled with trying to find someone to run the program in the future.

“The service was a lot of work to develop and the prototype was essentially good to go, but I couldn’t do it alone,” Halfacre said.

A group of sophomore BHLP students, Kanak Chattopadhyay, Shannon Burke, Marissa Timoner and Cassie Benzenhoefer, was working on their “Tier 2” project and collaborated with Halfacre because they were interested in supporting student service.

The group was excited to learn about Halfacre’s volunteer e-newsletter service because they wanted to create a similar project, Chattopadhyay said.

Before learning about the newsletter concept that Halfacre discovered through her research, the group had difficulty pinpointing the best method to distribute information about volunteer opportunities campuswide, Burke said.

“These like-minded, service-oriented, passionate people were the perfect group to help get things in motion,” Halfacre said.

Having the prototype filled with campus partners after months of preparation and emails was a rewarding feeling for the group, Burke said.

The team wants VoHENteers to be an aid for both students looking for volunteer opportunities as well as RSOs and other service organizations who are in need of volunteers.

“I think we’ll know that VolHENteers is successful on a numbers basis if we can really boost the involvement on Student Central and if we get feedback from students that appreciate having a one-stop place to hear about opportunities and participate in them at their own leisure,” Chattopadhyay said.

Moving forward, the group aspires to expand the scope of volunteer opportunities in the newsletter. For now the team is trying to gain more subscribers through publicity events and having an increased social media presence.

“Expansion is our main goal right now,” Burke said. “We hope to partner with new groups and more Greek organizations and eventually get the entire UD community aware of and in support of this program.”

Subscribers to the first edition of the e-newsletter can expect to see information about UDance, local fundraisers and Stand for Freedom, Halfacre said.

Students interested in this bi-weekly e-newsletter can sign up via Student Central. In the coming weeks, PDFs of archived newsletters will be available on the VolHENteers Student Central page.

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