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New volunteer center will connect and give back to community

By Samantha Schaefer

June 7, 2009 9:00 p.m.

Chancellor Gene Block recently announced the development of the UCLA Volunteer Center, an online center created to connect students, alumni, faculty and staff with the community.

“A public university (UCLA) has an obligation to serve people of California and more specifically, the people of Los Angeles,” Block said. “Civic engagement builds a sense of commitment among students for the public good, and we have to create opportunities for students … to exercise their interest in public service.”

Director and Assistant Chancellor Antoinette Mongelli and campaign director David Bloome emphasized the virtual center will be more versatile than a typical Web site ““ it will serve as a hub for UCLA students and alumni to connect with outside community and volunteer groups.

The site will include elements like an interactive calendar detailing volunteering opportunities in the community, the number of volunteers needed for specific events, blogs detailing personal volunteerism and an online training component for organizations like the Red Cross, Mongelli said.

It will also provide a platform for each service-based student group on campus to develop a new Web site, which will be linked to the Center.

“We’re not reinventing any programs, we’re just trying to centralize,” Bloome said. “It’s a way for students to plug in information and ask for volunteers.”

The opening of the center on Sept. 21 will be followed by one of the largest campus-wide volunteer days in the nation, according to the directors.

Furthermore, they stated that hundreds of faculty, staff, student leaders and incoming freshman will be bused throughout Los Angeles to spend a day doing service in the community at various locations like Griffith Park and within the Los Angeles Unified School District.

In addition to the creation of the center and Volunteer Day, a service component will be added to the four “True Bruin” values endorsed by the university, Mongelli added.

The directors also mentioned that incoming students will be introduced to the campaign and service day by Chancellor Block during summer orientation sessions, and they will then have the opportunity to participate in Volunteer Day during Welcome Week.

The directors said the center is different from other volunteer centers because it will be available to students at UCLA as well as alumni all over the world.

“If not us, who should be doing this work? It’s what we need to be doing as citizens, we cant wait for someone else to be doing this work,” Mongelli said. “Now is the time to step up and people are hungry for it.”

The center will be funded by the UCLA Foundation, which distributes donations to the University. It’s being developed as an online center to eliminate the cost of physical center as well as to make it more accessible.

Mongelli and Bloome have been meeting with a variety of student leaders, faculty and alumni since November, when Chancellor Block approved the program.

Student leaders from each service group, alumni and faculty members have been consulted throughout the planning process, and the directors said they have received nothing but positive feedback and a willingness from Bruins to participate.

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Samantha Schaefer
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