Volunteering: It's More Than You Think

by Catherine McAuliffe

This morning I had the chance to talk to two Seattle University freshman classes about volunteer opportunities at our Cherry Street Food Bank. This is part of Seattle University’s curriculum called Service Learning. The professor will pick out a general theme for the class and the type of service that students can perform to fulfill their required hours. Then the lesson plan throughout the quarter impacts the service that the students perform as well as being impacted by the service. By going out into the community and volunteering in a field which directly relates to the subject matter they are learning about, the students are able to look at both from a very different perspective.

At Northwest Harvest we love our volunteers. They are literally the reason that we were able to distribute more than 30 million pounds of food last year. They gave us more than 110,000 hours of their time. I told the classes I spoke to today that I fully expect that in a couple of years we will have more volunteer hours than staff hours. I really hope that some of the young adults I spoke to today find an organization to whom they can donate their time and be passionate about it. Why do I feel that way (other than loving our great Northwest Harvest volunteers), you ask? Great question.

I volunteered at Northwest Harvest during my own time at Seattle University (SU). For those of you who don’t know SU, the campus is small. I mean really small. When I was there the whole thing fit basically into 6 blocks. It could have been really easy for me to get sucked into the vortex that was campus life and lose track of a lot of the world that was directly around me. Volunteering grounded me in a way that simply living on and around campus never could have. When you’re in college, college life can seem like the only thing that there is. Confronting the idea and the reality that hunger is a real and serious problem in our country, state and city helped me to live in the now and be much more aware of why I was doing what I was doing. That is what I hope for all incoming freshman in college and really everyone.

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