As a handful of nonprofits lined up here at Sonoma State University for the yearly Service & Internship Fair, the smell of opportunity lingered in the air. Everyone from the American Red Cross, to the American Association of University Women (AAUW) attended in hopes of bringing in new students looking for a shot at finding internships as well as volunteering positions.
The large turnout of not only nonprofits but also students was promising. One of the nonprofits who attended looking for students to join their team was Social Advocates for Youth (SAY). I had the pleasure of talking with the Volunteer Coordinator, Susan Boyle. Boyle explained that their mission is to help and support homeless youth, providing shelter, resources and assistance for any in need.
The volunteer options were quite expansive as Boyle noted, from helping put on events to assisting those living in their designated housing program, or if you like doing desk work there is the option for that too; there is really something for everyone. SAY provides an easy and very rewarding way for students to get involved in their spare time and it can be an amazing way for students to connect with their community. Boyle explained that they send teams out, usually volunteers who are accompanied by a youth who had been homeless in the past, onto the streets looking for other youth who may need help, “sometimes it can be safer on the streets than a home, that's the case the majority of the time,” said Boyle.
I saw Sonoma State senior and Communications major Kathleen Perry browsing the options and looking for volunteer opportunities that stuck out to her. Her initial thought about the Service & Internship Fair on campus was, “it’s an easy way to connect and it makes it so you don't have to go to them, because they are right here,” said Perry. “There are no excuses not to get involved because there are so many great outlets and this is the best time because they came to Sonoma to get students involved. It is an amazing and empowering way to connect with the community.”
A long time veteran of the Service & Internship Fair, Fran Sandler, the Physical Therapist Director for The Renaissance Healing and Learning Center has been coming every year since they began the Fair here at Sonoma State. Sandler was not alone, she was accompanied by her miniature horse, Buddy, and a therapy dog. Without a doubt, they were the hit of the fair.
The Renaissance Healing and Learning Center provides aid through hippotherapy treatment using horses. I learned that the movement of a horse can mimic the same rhythmic feeling of walking for a human; not only helping people with their bodies, but also connecting with the horses can be good for the mind.
“I’ve been coming here for a dozen years, ever since it started, and what is appealing is that students need internships,” said Sandler. “I am very into education, I’ve been there, and the work we do is so beneficial. From helping people with disabilities, to working with all types of people. Being around horses is a metaphor for life and you learn a lot about how to be around people.”
Petaluma Bounty’s mission is to bridge the gap between low income affordability and healthy local organic foods, and “improving the quality of food offered by emergency food distributors through the Bounty Hunters gleaning program.” Through the Service & Internship Fair, this organization was seeking students for internship positions to help build their team for another year, their vast options means you can get a bit dirty gardening, or help with the technical side of things. Petaluma Bounty was only one of the many environmental organizations who attended.
The close of another Internship and Service fair means many students were presented with an amazing opportunity to come and see what their community has to offer them.