by: Tania Rahman, CCE Social Media & Marketing Intern
The Mandela Room in the Old Union was bustling with activity on Tuesday, October 16, with visitors getting engaged during the Center for Civic Engagement's third annual Showcase of Opportunities. The event was open to all Binghamton University students, faculty and staff, and it was a chance for curious attendees to find out how to get involved with community organizations and student groups engaged in public issues. Representatives from over sixty campus and community organizations (not to mention faculty and academic programs), were there to provide attendees with information on ways to join, volunteer with, and engage in various programs.
From 12PM to 4PM, over five hundred guests steadily trickled into the room. Some paused to read the large, decorated displays atop some of the tables; others were deep in conversation with representatives from campus and community organizations. There were lots of free items being given away at the tables, including t-shirts created by the CCE, candy, pens, pamphlets and brochures. "Attendance at this year's showcase was fantastic," said Christie Zwahlen, a staff member for the CCE who has helped host previous years' showcase events. "It shows how committed our students, faculty, and staff are to being engaged members of the community. The connections made at this year's event could be the start of numerous new projects and programs that have a lasting impact on the area." This sentiment was also echoed by Dr. Allison Alden, Director of the CCE.
Several of the organizations that tabled at the event included Corazon de Dahlia, a group dedicated to providing for Peruvian youth and families living in poverty; Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity; Relay for Life, who had sign up sheets for their yearly walk hosted by the American Cancer Society; the Planned Parenthood of Binghamton; and even Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park, who are always looking for volunteers to help out with zoo related programs.
A representative for the Binghamton Zoo provides information about volunteer opportunities.
Many of the leaders who tabled at the showcase had positive things to say about it. Rebecca Rathmell, Donor Relations Representative for Binghamton's Rescue Mission, was able to connect with many students and faculty who were eager to get involved. "[The Showcase of Community Opportunities is] absolutely worth my time and I always leave encouraged by the volume of students who show up to look for organizations making a difference in our area." The president of the Corazon de Dahlia Student Group, Claudia Misch, noticed that despite the short time she was able to represent her organization at the Showcase, her table had generated a lot of interest. "I think the Showcase was a great way to let the students, and even other organizations tabling alongside us, to gain a little more insight to what our group is about."
|Guests perusing different organizations' tables|
According to Alison Handy, CCE Graduate Assistant and Showcase Coordinator, community organizations were encouraged by the large number of potential student volunteers and appreciated the opportunity to network with other nonprofits, both things which assist in advancing their missions.
Students who attended the Showcase also praised the event. Nico Meyering, a graduate student here at Binghamton University, said, “My [Master of Public Administration] program requires that we do an internship with a governmental or nonprofit agency. The Showcase is a great opportunity to get ideas of what is available.” Undergraduate student Kristen Voorhees, who is a senior majoring in Political Science, mentions the benefits she gained from the previous years’ showcase. “The CCE Showcase gave me the opportunity to make connections with the greater Binghamton community in a very personal and efficient fashion. At last year’s event I was able to connect with the Southern Tier AIDS Program and with the Binghamton Equestrian team to plan an event. This connection eventually led me to an internship with STAP in the spring and now an internship at CCE.” The CCE hopes to use all the feedback that it received about this year's Showcase to make next year's event an even bigger success.