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Meaningful service to others is a key part of being a student at OSU. For many students, volunteering to serve others is one of the most rewarding things they do. The experience of being a volunteer can help define who you want to be as an individual. Volunteer work can connect you with your community in new ways, encouraging personal growth and empathy. Service can also help you develop professional networks and get a job. Many companies and graduate schools prefer applicants who have spent time as a volunteer. Spending time volunteering on and off-campus sends an important signal that you care about making your community a better place. For more on why you should consider volunteering, click here to read about the benefits of community engagement.
Check with your academic advisor if you have any questions related to potential course credit for your volunteer experience.
Wherever you are, as you identify an organization to work with, remember that many volunteer opportunities are often with a small nonprofit organization. These groups generally have limited resources and are staffed by individuals with a strong, personal commitment to their organization’s mission. No matter the size of the group you want to work with, prepare now to be the most effective volunteer you can be. Before contacting a prospective volunteer site, we strongly encourage you to do the following:
- Learn about the organization and its mission. Where are they located? What activities do they engage in? Do they have full-time employees? Do they have a volunteer coordinator?
- Identify the best way to contact the organization. This may be through a volunteer coordinator, but many smaller nonprofits do not have such a position. If possible, try to contact someone other than the group’s director.
- Be flexible. Remember that you are volunteering to support what the organization already does, not to earn the organization’s praise. The staff at the organization are experts in their field and are passionate about what they do. Respect their knowledge and experience by learning from and actively following all directions.
There are many opportunities to volunteer at OSU. The Service-Learning Volunteer Center (SLVC) provides a variety of resources for students interested in volunteering, including a calendar of potential service experiences and more information about the CORD program to recognize OSU students who are committed to service. The SLVC coordinates a variety of events and resources, including Into the Streets, a campus wide day of service, and OSU Engage, a database of often short-term service opportunities.
The more than 500 student organizations at OSU also frequently offer volunteer opportunities. You can learn more about these groups and their events on the CampusLink website.
Many students leave Stillwater during summer and winter breaks. During a break, students often have more free time and may be more interested in volunteering, but finding the right service opportunity can be difficult. Several online databases can be a useful starting point no matter where you are. Though creating a fully comprehensive database of all charitable organizations and opportunities is impossible, the following offer information (including volunteers’ reviews) about a large number of groups across Oklahoma and the United States.