As part of the community of Greenville, North Carolina, and the surrounding communities in Pitt County, East Carolina University has a responsibility to use its ample resources to help improve the region.
ECU’s 27,000 students, and nearly 4,500 faculty and staff are one such resource, and because of the Volunteer and Service Learning Center (VSLC), it is one effectively applied to areas of need in our community every day. Because of the center, area elementary-school children are better prepared for proficiency tests, local nonprofit organizations receive training without taxing their already thin budgets, and Greenville’s elderly enjoy the holidays a little more.
The VSLC is located in the Old Cafeteria Complex and helps students, faculty, and staff engage in effective volunteer and service-learning activities that strengthen the community, promote an enduring commitment to civic responsibility, and enhance the academic experience. And they do it on a grand scale. This year, the center recorded 161,680 volunteer hours from approximately 11,000 students.
That a dedicated center exists on campus to promote community involvement should come as no surprise. Service is a core value of ECU. The university’s motto Servire means to serve, and the giving of one’s time, energy, and passion to the less fortunate is as commonplace on this campus as purple and gold is on game days.
“Over the past few years, we have started to see a trend where students are seeking us out. They are so used to being involved in their home towns that they feel lost without it,” said Shawn Moore, community partner coordinator for the VSLC. “Volunteering is one way for students to feel connected very quickly. And they need to feel a part of not only the ECU campus community, but also the Greenville community, because this is where they are going to live for the next four years.”
While service comes naturally to some students, others need assistance to get involved, be it encouragement or simply the right opportunity. In those instances, the VSLC can help. The center maintains relationships with community partners and is staffed by professionals who are passionate about community service.
“Our goal is to build a huge force of life-long volunteers, so that no matter where they go once they leave ECU they are going to serve in their communities, because it makes for a better society,” said Moore.
The VSLC coordinates service in two primary forms, volunteering and service learning. Most everyone is familiar with volunteerism, but service learning may be a new concept to some.
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