Opportunities arise for students to give back
College students often have to juggle a bombardment of class assignments, a part- or full-time job and responsibilities to their friends or families; volunteering might be the last thing on their mind.
Despite this popular belief, there are plenty of students on campus who sacrifice their time to help people in Houston, and there are many opportunities to reach out through UH.
“What we want students to do is find something they’re interested in and to care about it,” said Stephanie Schmidt, associate director of leadership and civic engagement for the Center of Student Involvement. “Doing some landscaping, doing some building is a great way to show that UH students really care about the people around them.”
That’s exactly what students did Monday during the first annual Martin Luther King Day of Service.
The majority of students worked with Habitat for Humanity in neighborhoods while others spent the day with Vitae-Living, serving people with developmental disabilities.
“It’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate Martin Luther King Day and make difference,” Schmidt said.
Other service projects are available to students through the university’s Metropolitan Volunteer Program. It’s free to join and non-committal, meaning students can attend as many or as little events they want.
Samuel Marshall is an interpersonal communications student and the ongoing service events chair for MVP. He leads events that occur monthly or semimonthly, such as excursions to The Beacon, a homeless shelter, or Casa de Esperanza, a refuge for children in crisis.
“Whenever we go (to The Beacon), we probably encounter and interact with 500 homeless citizens,” Marshall said.
Other UH students, like entrepreneurship senior Aaron Gomez, volunteer with their Greek organizations.
Through his fraternity, Sigma Lambda Beta, Gomez mentors and tutors boys in the Second Ward.
“The most rewarding part is knowing that we help these kids get off the streets and go to college,” Gomez said. “Everybody’s required to do community service for organizations, but if you’re not passionate about it, it’s not rewarding.”