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Giving back moves the Cedar Valley forward
Story by Sara Wesselmann, UNI University Relations online magazine and public relations assistant
From freshmen to graduate students, faculty to staff, student organizations to residence hall members, UNI is giving back and connecting with the Cedar Valley with the Volunteer Tuesdays program.
"Getting the campus involved in activities that extend out into the community is beneficial to everyone involved," said Steffoni Smith, UNI Student Leadership Center graduate assistant. "It provides a great service and a great way to show that UNI is more than just a college campus."
With the help of UNI's Student Leadership Center and the Volunteer Center of the Cedar Valley, every Tuesday is filled with volunteer activities that allow participants to make a difference in the community, become involved, meet new people, help others and develop new skills.
"Volunteering gives me an overwhelming feeling," said Rachel Smithart, a freshman from Altoona, Iowa. "You know that you have just made a huge difference, and it's amazing to know that people around you can benefit from just three hours of your week."
"We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give."
Each week, a different community agency is served. UNI Volunteer Tuesday participants will serve the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, Parkview Nursing & Rehab Center and Salvation Army Youth After School Program. The diversity of the agencies provides students with different types of experiences within the Cedar Valley.
"The people we are able to work with are truly phenomenal and have had a huge impact on my experience at UNI," said Smithart. "Making a difference through volunteer efforts is so important. You never know if you might be the one needing help in the future."
Leadership, integrity, and good communication and teamwork skills are qualities the Student Leadership Center values in its volunteers. Moving winter decorations from one Main Street Cedar Falls businesses to another and painting at ASPIRE Therapeutic are tasks that keep volunteers busy throughout their sessions.
"The students who volunteer really want to be out there, and they have shown their enthusiasm right from the minute we start," said Smith. "Iowa kids have great work ethic, and it shows in the way they work."