March 12, 2010
The UCLA Volunteer Center has made a valuable, new resource available on its website — a comprehensive calendar that aggregates volunteer opportunities both on campus and throughout Los Angeles.
“UCLA has hundreds and hundreds of programs, but there wasn’t really an information infrastructure to connect them all,” said David Bloome, campaign director with the Volunteer Center. “Most student groups didn’t have websites, and those that did have sites that weren’t really functional.” Most student organizations rely on word of mouth or handing out fliers on Bruin Walk, he noted.
In order to bring together all the information about volunteer events put on by student groups, Bloome turned to Kenn Heller, the associate director of the Center for Student Programming and a member of the planning group for the Volunteer Center. It turns out that the Center for Student Programming, which has been working with student groups on campus for 40 years, has a new multipurpose web portal called OrgSync.
Recognized campus organizations may use OrgSync to communicate, organize and store information, and now that the Volunteer Center has gone live with its calendar, groups will be able to post updates to the calendar about their volunteer events. Once they are registered and set up with a portal, student groups will have all of the tools they need to use the calendar.
“If an organization wishes to post a volunteer opportunity on the calendar, they just have to post that event on their own portal,” Heller explained. “They will then choose the option to make the event public and then request to share this event on the community-wide calendar.”
Although at this point only student groups and some UCLA departments are eligible to be registered for OrgSync, the calendar includes information about events hosted by regional volunteer organizations such as LA Works. Antoinette Mongelli, the executive director of the UCLA Volunteer Center, said that the calendar is really intended to be used by anyone in the community.
Meanwhile the Volunteer Center is already working on this fall’s second annual UCLA Volunteer Day. Last September 4,300 freshmen and transfer students fanned out across Los Angeles to eight different locations to work on community projects. Murals were painted at a school, a state beach was cleaned and trees were planted, among other good works.
Last year, David Bloome talked to volunteer leaders before they learned how to paint murals at an elementary school. This year, in preparation for Volunteer Day next September, leaders are doing more indepth training. They have already been assigned to different projects and taught how to run the training of student volunteers.
This year, Bloome explained that they have even more planned: “We’re involving a lot of our task captains from last year — students, faculty, staff and alumni — and they’re going to train the volunteers this time around.” This initiative was launched recently when the new Volunteer Leadership Program held two orientation sessions in February and early March where interested volunteer leaders were assigned to different projects and taught how to run the training.
Hillary Kane, a vice president and general counsel for Body Glove, attended the second orientation event and joined the Griffith Park team. A graduate of the College of Letters and Science (1988) and the Anderson School of Management’s Executive M.B.A. Program (2008), Kane participated in the first UCLA Volunteer Day and plans to be even more involved in the second.
Kane said she feels a special connection to her project, both in terms of her history at UCLA and her experience of growing up around Griffith Park. She said there’s a difference between volunteering with UCLA and other organizations. With UCLA, she said, “I say ‘How can I do more?’ rather than ‘Oh, I signed up for that. I guess I have to go.’ I don’t know how, but [working] with the staff, alumni and students, there’s just an amazing vibe.”