Volunteer Opportunites Abound
by Jessy Bradish

Brandishing the motto, “Think one person can change the world? So do we,” community service plays an important part in the lives of Oberlin students.
The Center for Service and Learning (CSL) and the Oberlin Community Service Center (OCS) are the two main institutions at Oberlin that offer community service opportunities to Oberlin students. Both centers work collaboratively on the America Counts program, an educational assistance program geared toward fourth and sixth graders. OCS, however, has no relation to the College. With the exception of America Counts, the two centers operate separately from each other.
The CSL, located on South Professor Street behind Fairchild dorm, was founded in 1995 upon Nancy Dye’s induction. “[Starting the center] was one of Nancy Dye’s first goals when she got here because she’s a proponent of outreach,” director of the CSL Beth Blissman said. Currently, CSL annually helps place approximately 1,000 students in non-profit organizations. It has contacts with over 100 off-campus, non-profit groups and oversees Bonner Scholars and America Reads volunteers.
These programs are available to students seeking work-study as well as though simply wishing to volunteer.
The CSL works with various schools in Oberlin including Prospect and Eastwood Elementary, Oberlin Early Childhood Center, Head Start and the Seventh Day Adventist school.
In the past six years, student involvement in the CSL’s programs have grown tremendously. The trend has recently been towards academic volunteer opportunities such as America Reads and America Counts. “Working with kids is a fun way to help the community, and you get to watch them progress.” America Counts volunteer Petrina Willig said.
Most of the volunteer opportunities are within the Lorain County area, although some extend as far as Cleveland. Once the CSL helps a student get in touch with the volunteer organization of their choice, they also offer vehicles for transportation. The CSL also offers winter term opportunities, which can be viewed on their website at ww.oberlin.edu/~csl/. The majority of the CSL’s operating budget comes from grants, which amount to more money than the College provides. However, the support from the College has been consistent,” Blissman said.
Students are also able to receive credit from the College for community service work. Currently, Oberlin offers 15 classes that actively involve community service, all of which can be found on the CSL website.
OCS, which is located just a few blocks south of the CSL, was founded in 1955. Last year it moved its offices from South Main Street to 258 South Professor Street. It has been organizing and conducting math programs for ten years, and works with fourth, sixth, and ninth graders during the year, as well as high-school students in the summer. These are the years that the Ohio proficiency test is administered. Students who don’t pass the ninth grade exam aren’t allowed to graduate high-school.
Along with education programs, OCS also distributes food packages from their office on a monthly basis.
Various volunteer opportunities for students are available with OCS, including a Winter Term internship in their office. More volunteer information can be found on their website: www.oberlincommunityservices.org..

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