Have you ever wanted to expand your horizons and have the capability to help people outside of your community? How about wanting to make a bigger impact or get a more hands-on opportunity to volunteer somewhere new? Well, last Tuesday Mason Scher (’20), Co-President of the newly re-branded Volunteer Without Borders (previously Volunteer Resource Center), sat down with “The Acorn” and discussed how this club can answer those questions and more.
What is Volunteer Without Borders?
As part of the Center for Civic Engagement, the organization used to be known as the Volunteer Resource Center (VRC). However, this year’s leaders wanted to expand and rebrand the organization. The creation of VWB allows for greater opportunities for volunteer experiences during school breaks, called Alternative Break Trips, that will have a greater focus on the projects themselves.
Why is it called Volunteer Without Borders?
Because anyone can volunteer! It welcomes the idea of everyone having the chance to go beyond borders to help people in need. The volunteering happens outside of Drew, Madison and New Jersey. The idea is to convey that one is not confined to only making a difference within the borders around them and to encourage people to branch out and help others in different places around the world.
What does VWB do?
This upcoming winter break, VWB will be heading to New Orleans with lowernine.org, a non-profit organization that helps rebuild areas in the Lower Ninth Ward that were severely damaged by flooding from Hurricane Katrina, as well as numerous hurricanes that followed. The Drew volunteers will be helping with projects such as carpentry, roofing, electrical wiring, plumbing, framing and more. In doing so, they will be able to help the area become more affordable for homeowners, reducing the costs of construction by 30 percent. Students do not need previous experience in these areas. Before leaving and while on the trip, there will be educators to help volunteers learn the skills they need.
New Orleans is not the only chance to work with VWB. Over spring break, the club will be flying to Guatemala to help with sustainability production. There will also be an opportunity during the summer, information for which will be released soon, as well as the locations for the next couple of years. Each location that the club travels to will be a place in need of volunteers to help restore their community. VWB is striving to hold at least three trips per year, one during each major break, to allow for as many opportunities as it can.
Who can become a part of the organization?
Anyone can join! Anyone can help, support, join the mailing list and/or submit an application to physically volunteer. The VWB board will select 12 students to go to New Orleans, via an application process. Students who have never had volunteer opportunities and are looking to start are highly encouraged to submit an application. The organization is looking for diversity throughout the program, wanting a range of people with little volunteer experience to apply. Applications are available on DrewToday and The Path, or students can email email@example.com for a link to the application. Applications are due October 12.
Along with the 12 student volunteers, there will also be two VWB board members attending each trip. Maimouna Kante (’20) and Bri Rooks (‘22) will be going on the winter break trip; Scher and Marco Nandalal (‘22) will go on the spring break trip, and Rooks and Nandalal will be going on the trip during summer break. In addition, there will be one adult chaperone on the trip. Any faculty or staff that would like to apply to go on any of these trips should email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
How much does it cost to participate?
The cost of the trip is $250 plus airfare and travel, at their own expense (there is a payment plan to ensure everyone is on top of payments). All necessary housing, food and equipment are paid for over the duration of the trip. However, students are advised to bring money for personal spending on extra food, souvenirs or anything else they may need
Need-based scholarships may be offered to students in financial need, and VWB hopes that the scholarships will grow alongside the organization to help support more people going on these trips.
Does it count towards the off-campus requirement/Experimental learning?
Sophomores, juniors and seniors that volunteer with VWP are eligible to fulfill their off-campus requirement by going on one of these trips. First years’ Experiential Learning with Launch will not be available with VWP for winter break, but will hopefully be in place for the spring and summer breaks.
What did students on previous trips think about it?
In May, students had the opportunity to go to New Orleans with the previous VRC and help rebuild in the area. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, stated, “I had a great time volunteering in New Orleans this summer! I had the opportunity to work for and with great people from many different cultural and environmental backgrounds. I learned new skills such as carpentry, painting and landscaping. The community was accepting, inviting and grateful for the volunteers.”
Who to contact?
Students can contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for any information or questions regarding the program.