Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 10, 2017

Volunteering Opportunities Available for Students through OVS

Lexy Underhill

Manchester University has a long reputation for its many service projects and volunteer opportunities for students, faculty and staff. The Center for Service Opportunities is not a new program; it has been around for quite a while but went through a name and leadership change when its long-term director Carole Miller-Patrick retired last year. Allison Goetcheus, a former social worker, accepted the new position as Office of Volunteer Services (OVS) coordinator this year.

 “Here at Manchester we offer service opportunities to get students engaged," Goetcheus said. "We look at OVS in three different ways: in a volunteering sense, an advocacy sense and a giving sense. Exposure to service and what is in our local community is very important.”

The program offers many different ways to contribute as a volunteer. Students can find service opportunities that both connect with or are different from their major, from working with children to visiting a nursing home. “We offer this to link up with people and to give back to the community and grow a partnership because this could possibly be a job down the line for many students,” Goetcheus said.
Manchester has always had a Habitat for Humanities chapter, has helped with Blessings in a Backpack (community partner), as well as the weekly Community Dinner, and Death Row support has been here for a few years. OVS also puts on the yearly blood drives.
The program has a way of choosing where volunteers will be placed. “The office as whole will look at what kind of openings we have because not all of our opportunities are on their newsletter," Goetcheus said. "We will then place the student where they feel useful in doing something.”

Social media has become a big step for the OVS program. They use it to get the word out about volunteering. “We think that social media has helped a lot," Goetcheus said. "Word of mouth and experience has also helped. As students volunteer and have fun doing something, the word spreads quickly.”

Goetcheus had considerable previous experience before coming to Manchester. She worked with United Way for three years, with the Youth Philanthropy Council and the Emerging Leaders she was employed with the Department of Child Protective Services as a supervisor. “Coming from such a negative environment because social work was not always positive, it is nice to now be in a positive environment,” she said.
“Service, children, family and giving back has always been in my bloodstream,” Goetcheus added.
Students are encouraged to stop by her office or email if interested in volunteering. “We think a lot of those things comes with certain opportunities," Goetcheus said. "We encourage students to advocate for themselves. We are still growing and in the beginning phase of our learning process.”