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Help Yourself by Helping Your Neighbor: 6 Ways to Get Involved in Volunteering

You should volunteer because we live in a world where the individual is highlighted as the most important thing. We constantly think of ourselves, our actions and our futures. We're all college students, and it's good to plan and think introspectively, but it's also crucial to look beyond yourself into the world around you and see the impact you can make on it. Not only is volunteerism important because doing good makes you feel good, but it also reminds you that the world does not revolve around you. Pushing yourself to get out into the community and help with something as simple as trash collection or classroom organization can demonstrate how a little bit of your time can make all the difference for someone else. Humans are social beings; we really thrive from human interaction and collaboration. Through community involvement and volunteering, you are not only helping to construct a better community, but also a better body, mind and soul to exist in. Now that you know all the benefits, have you decided to give volunteering a go? This is just the article for you.

  1. 1. Club Volunteering and Collaborations

    Believe it or not, volunteering is a widespread necessity for many organizations and clubs on campus. If you are interested in volunteering but also want to meet other students and be a part of a larger organization, try using the “University of Pittsburgh- Main Campus” engage portal. Through this portal, you can browse over 400 organizations on campus. The search tool helps minimize options down to the specific type of volunteering you're interested in. You can also organize all the organizations according to categories such as “service” for volunteer-based organizations. This way, you can look at a diverse range of clubs or chapters/branches of bigger volunteer organizations that work within Pittsburgh to help improve their specific cause.

  2. 2. Sorority or Fraternity Volunteering

    Utilizing the same engage portal, you can organize different service fraternities and/or sororities and further investigate their main interests in volunteering. This option for volunteering within the Pitt community is much more of a commitment because of the large number of required service hours for sororities and fraternities. However, this is a great option for someone interested in meeting new people who are also interested in serving the larger Pittsburgh community or if you are already looking at Greek Life. Service sororities and fraternities mostly organize the different volunteering opportunities for you and provide options on different times and places to volunteer in order to get your required number of hours as a brother/sister. This allows you to have a lot of different opportunities provided for you, and you can pick and choose!

  3. 3. Pitt Signature Days of Service

    University of Pittsburgh’s “Signature Days of Service” are three service days coordinated by the Office of PittServes. They provide students with an easy, accessible way to get involved in volunteering. Whether volunteering with your floor, friends, club or as an individual, these days of service are an easy way to dedicate your time to something bigger than yourself. Pitt’s signature days of service include “Pitt Make A Difference Day” (popularly known as PMADD), “Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service” and “Pitt Be A Good Neighbor Day." PittServes coordinates these events with different community organizations, non-profits and suburbs of Pittsburgh. These days of service get over 500 students out into the community to make a difference.

  4. 4. Service Portal

    PittServes is the best because they have a volunteer portal that makes it super easy to sign-up for different, individual volunteer opportunities. Let’s walk through this together. First, you are going to click this link. Then, once you get to the PittServes volunteer opportunity page, click the “Advanced Search” tab at the top of the page to look at the different opportunities according to a time slot, location, distance and activity. You can also utilize filters to help organize opportunities to your availability, volunteer interests and relative location. The PittServes service portal can also record your service hours if you sign-up to volunteer through them or at another university volunteer event. You can do this by logging in through Pitt Passport and self-reporting through your personal account.

  5. 5. Reach Out

    If you are interested in a specific organization, reach OUT! Look the organization up, find their contact information (usually at the bottom of the page) and send them an email detailing why you're interested in their organization and that you would like to work with them as a volunteer. Organizations, especially non-profits, appreciate all the help they can get, and you will likely be welcomed with open arms. Just take that first step and make the decision to reach out.

  6. 6. Think Outside the Box

    If you have exhausted all of Pitt’s resources, and you aren’t finding anything that suits your schedule and interests, don’t worry! The city of Pittsburgh is a big place, and you can still find places to volunteer that aren’t associated with the university. Several organizations such as Pittsburgh Cares and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy need young, enthusiastic students like yourself to show up and help out! Don’t hesitate to search for volunteer opportunities that interest you.

Some tips, now that you have volunteer opportunities at your disposal. Always come prepared for any type of weather—be overprepared even—and always contact the organizer in advance. Make sure you have explicit directions to the location, time and meeting place. It's important to make sure you're going to the right place and with the right materials in hand. Go with an open mind and the want to do some good in the world. Good luck, and happy helping!