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Monday, September 25, 2023

Life + Arts

Profile: Metropolitan Volunteer Program focuses on building community

The Metropolitan Volunteer Program is a service organization that primarily serves the UH community and Third Ward areas and provides students of any time commitment the opportunity to volunteer. | Courtesy of Robin Johnson

Trying to balance a full class schedule with extracurriculars and a social life can make students feel like they have little time for other activities, such as volunteering.

The Metropolitan Volunteer Program (MVP) plans and executes several service projects of various lengths throughout the semester, giving even the busiest students the opportunity to get involved.

“We already planned the events, so all you need to do is sign up,” MVP Director Robin Johnson said. “It’s a lot easier than you think to get connected.”

MVP is a service organization that primarily serves the UH community and the greater Third Ward area. The organization is composed of four committees, each addressing a different area of concern at or around the University.

MVP’s primary areas of focus are, Health and Wellness, Environmental and Sustainability, Hunger and Homelessness and Children and Education.

“Each one of those committees has an umbrella of the events that we plan,” MVP Assistant Director of Finance Sandra Gonzalez said.

Each committee strives to put on one event each week. Between cancellations and rescheduling, between 12 and 16 events are executed per month. The majority of these events are small, Johnson said.

“They all have about five to 15 people per event,” Johnson said. “It’s nice to keep it up because you get to see the same volunteers and they know you’re committed. It’s nice for volunteer coordinators to get to know you.”

Getting to know the volunteers is one of her primary goals for the upcoming year, Johnson said.

“I really want to get focused back on community,” Johnson said. “I just want to make it feel like, ‘Oh, I know that chair’s name, they plan these events, let me go talk to them.’ ”

Johnson plans on building the MVP community by doing more socially-oriented events and bringing awareness to various areas of service, including a DIY planter event that will be taking place this semester.

“It’s like a fun little activity, just to talk about the environment. It’s not necessarily volunteering, but it’s nice to get more of a community base,” Johnson said. “I want to know the volunteers by name. This is a good way to talk to them and promote.”

In the meantime, MVP is gearing up for their first event of the upcoming semester. Partnered with the Center for Student Involvement (CSI), MVP is putting on the Weeks of Welcome Day of Service. The event will feature activities at a variety of service sites across the Houston area, free food and t-shirts.

Even though the event is just a couple of hours, it can still make a difference and allow an individual to connect with their community, Johnson said.

“We provide service opportunities for everybody,” Gonzalez said. “We connect the University with our community and help them to realize it’s not just about your small bubble, there’s a whole world out there that you are able to help.”

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