By Robin Peterson
VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads will be renting office space in Village II for the foreseeable future, according to a Feb. 23 campus-wide email from VWC President Scott Miller. The organization is new to our campus, but its website says that it has existed in various forms for 57 years.
The space will serve as the regional volunteer headquarters for the group, according to Diane Hotaling, VWC’s director of community service. The organization’s presence on campus is meant to help students find new volunteer and internship opportunities in and around the Hampton Roads region.
This is a special collaboration between Wesleyan and VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads that will benefit both the school and the organization as a whole, a win-win situation, Hotaling said. Students will be able to go to the office to receive help in finding pertinent opportunities in and around the area, and VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads will be able to help the nonprofits that they are partnered with to find talented help through our campus community.
The group’s website says that its purpose is to “connect businesses with opportunities which create a positive impact on [the] community.” VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads at its heart is all about providing resources to both nonprofits and communities by fostering connections between them and finding out how to best use their resources, according to the website.
“Because they have volunteers on a national level [as well as the local level], their organization is really trying to help nonprofits use the resources that they already have,” Hotaling said. Its presence on a college campus “does not change what they do,” Hotaling said.
The group’s role in our campus community will be similar to that of Career Services and the Office of Community Service. Its primary role, according to Hotaling, will be to offer opportunities to students that would not be possible otherwise. For example, students who want to gain experience in their field but whose major does not offer an internship can go to VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads to look for an opportunity, Hotaling said.
These services will be an asset to the college because there will now be two offices on campus able to assist students in finding great opportunities in their respective fields. Besides connecting students with opportunities outside of campus, VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads will be bringing the full force of its resources to campus as well. However, these services may take some time to become fully available to the campus community.
Our partnership with VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads is “a new one,” Hotaling said, and there will be many bumps along the way in folding it into the fabric of the community. Its presence on campus came as if from out of nowhere, and, as Hotaling said, the new programs and services were “not rolled out in the best way.”
For example, the president’s Feb. 23 Nota Bene did not concretely specify when VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads would be open for students to use. However, according to Hotaling, students can stop by their new suite in Village II now if they would like to get to know the staff and talk about the new opportunities available to them.
Some have also had concerns over whether this will change the way in which Career Services and the Office of Community Service function. Hotaling said that the organization’s presence on campus does not diminish or limit the role that these offices play. Instead, VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads’ presence on campus will only serve to bolster the services that we have on campus now. Hotaling said, “It adds value to the [community service] support available to the students.”
The group has already moved into its new offices in Village II, and students are encouraged to stop by. The new offices will officially open March 11 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house.