December 13, 2011
The recently created Volunteer Services program at OBU is about to celebrate its first birthday, and the best gift the program could receive is a wealth of new volunteers from the Shawnee community.
In February 2011, Dr. Bill Donovan was named director of the program, which has drawn approximately 30 volunteers from the surrounding area. Volunteer Services is a unique program for OBU. Although many volunteers have been sent out from OBU into the community, this is the first time volunteers have been brought in to serve on the OBU campus. Unlike many other volunteer organizations, the volunteer service at OBU is event-oriented rather than requiring participants to commit to long periods of service.
Initially, orienting OBU to the new program proved to be a bit of a challenge, Donovan said, since the campus culture was not accustomed to the presence of outside volunteers. Several departments believed the volunteer services were meant only for executive use, but the program is designed for any faculty or staff member who wants volunteers to help with an event or project.
Donovan said he believes many potential volunteers in the community may not have been aware of the opportunity to volunteer on Bison Hill, as the program is still relatively new.
“Essentially, we just want people to know this service is available to participate in,” he said.
The Volunteer Services program consists of community volunteers who respond to various requests for helpers from across campus. Volunteers have donated their time in numerous areas: the College of Nursing, the Human Resources Department, the Heritage Center in OBU’s Mabee Learning Center, organizing large-scale mailings from President Whitlock’s office, registration for Homecoming, serving as an audience for students making scholarly presentations and even helping with the new swim team.
Other projects include signing up to help drive OBU’s sports teams to their out-of-town games, if needed, and outdoor jobs to help with landscaping around OBU’s campus. Retired OBU staff members also are available to edit or proofread material for professors and administrative or executive staff.
In light of the increase in volunteers, Donovan designed green vests emblazoned with a gold “OBU Volunteer” emblem, so students, faculty and administration can easily recognize the volunteers across campus.
“The vests are elegant but understated, so as not to overpower the personality of the person wearing them,” Donovan joked. “We want [volunteers] to do good works and look nice, too.”
Membership for the Volunteer Services is free and renewable annually. To participate, those interested must complete an application process, which includes a background check, a skills assessment and an orientation to OBU’s campus and the work site the volunteers will visit. Donovan said the goal is for volunteers to participate in services consistent with their interests, skills and training to set them up for success.