Richter Center hosts community fair to connect with students

A broad view of the different booths at the Fall Community Service Opportunities Fair on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022 in front of Kennel Bookstore. (Carlos Rene Castro/The Collegian)

The Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning hosted its Fall Community Service Opportunities Fair on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

The fair, which took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., featured over 65 local organizations, including Faith in the Valley, Beautify Fresno, Fresno Discovery Center, Jumpstart Fresno and Care Fresno. 

Trisha Studt, the community partnerships coordinator for the Richter Center, was in charge of inviting organizations to the event. 

“I would anticipate over 1,000 students came to the event to talk to agencies about doing service,” Studt said. “I hope that students become more aware of what the needs in our community are, and how they are able to help others. Fresno State is a huge part of the Fresno community and the ability for students to give back and be a part of that is a great benefit for everyone involved.”

Fresno Discovery Center, an organization focused on providing children with fun learning experiences related to science, tabled at  the event to meet with potential student volunteers and inform them about their work.

“Our main goal is to ignite the curiosity of the young people in Fresno County and have them understand that science is fun, science is in everything we do and to provide them with hands-on, brain-on science activities,” said Stephanie Barajas, administrative coordinator for the Fresno Discovery Center. 

Students who volunteer can help by greeting guests at events, engaging with visitors at the exhibits or working with staff on exhibits. Fresno Discovery Center’s website also said that volunteers who are comfortable with animals can “hang with the snakes,” referring to the animal exhibit where volunteers can be trained to handle snakes.

Valley Animal Center, another organization who attended the event, is a no-kill shelter that allows students to volunteer within its six different departments. Volunteers can empty trash cans at the dog park, socialize with the cats and walk the dogs at their adoption center and write social media posts with the marketing department.

“Our mission is to unite dogs and cats with loving people, so we have affordable and accessible resources to help make sure that animals that are united stay that way,” said Nou Her, a copywriter and representative for Valley Animal Center. “We’re always looking for volunteers to help us with succeeding in our mission.” 

Volunteer work can range from the expected maintenance of animals and facilities, to walking and socializing with dogs and cats. On top of that, volunteers who work with Valley Animal Center’s marketing department can also expect to help with photography, videography, graphic design, social media posts and event planning.

Faith in the Valley tabled at the event to seek potential student volunteers in its efforts to end racial profiling and create safer communities.

“We believe that every person deserves the opportunity to live a thriving, healthy and sustainable life,” said Alexandra Alvarado, a community organizer for Faith in the Valley’s Fresno region. “Students have a say in what happens in their future, so we create spaces where we can learn, grow, find resources and inform communities to create the change we want to see.”

Volunteers for Faith in the Valley can help by canvassing neighborhoods, organizing and connecting communities together and encouraging people to use their voice to create positive change by holding elected local leaders accountable.

The volunteer fair was the first event hosted by the Richter Center for the fall 2022 semester, but students who missed the in-person fair can look forward to Serving Fresno Day on Nov. 19 for more volunteer opportunities. Information about other upcoming Richter Center events and volunteer opportunities can be found at the Richter Center’s website.

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