Indianola is full of volunteer opportunities, but finding them isn't always easy.
Indianola Hometown Pride and Simpson College hope to make it easier with a joint volunteer fair at the college Monday, Aug. 26.
More than 50 organizations from around Indianola and Central Iowa will be on display at the fair, which was originally set up for first-year Simpson students to find places to serve, said Anna Pena, director of the first-year experience and community engagement at Simpson.
“Service is such a part of our culture, we want students to experience that right away,” explained Pena. Classes at the college begin Wednesday.
But when Indianola Hometown Pride reached out, explaining that they too were looking at holding a service fair, Pena said, it made senses to join forces.
“One of the goals of Hometown Pride from the beginning was to create a way for the community organizations to network and have more ways to recruit volunteers,” said Brianna Vaughn of Indianola Hometown Pride. “One person said she really wanted to get involved but didn’t know how.”
Monday’s service fair is a chance for residents to fix that. Indianola residents are invited to visit the fair from 11:15 to noon, along with returning students from the college. First-year students will have the event to themselves from 9:30 a.m. until 11:15.
The fair will be held in Hubbell Hall in the Kent Campus Center.
While having the event fall in the middle of the day may impact community attendance, it’s an opportunity to test the concept, said Lorin Ditzler, community coach with Hometown Pride.
“I am hoping that once we do this ‘trial run’ (if all goes well) that we can do it again and see if we could fiddle with the timing so that it would work for both students and the working public,” she said. “I think this is a smart partnership and would like to see us offer this opportunity to as many people as we can.”
Pena agreed. She said the 50-plus organizations that will be at the fair is a record for the annual event, and she gave credit for the increase to promotion by the Hometown Pride committee. It won’t be the only volunteer activity for the Simpson students, she added. Students also will package meals for Meals from the Heartland and will hear a speaker.
Each organization at the event will have a table, and attendees can wander among the organizations to explore the opportunities they offer, and the help that they need.
“I want the community organizations to find a source of good volunteers, not just the physical work,” Vaughn said. “I think the Simpson students could be a source of marketing and IT help and other things. That would help build their experience in college and build the organization a little better.”
Vaughn said she’s eager to see what each group gains from the event. Even if only one or two organizations gain volunteers, she said it will be a success, and a beginning.
“I’d be happy with a small impact this year to fuel the fire to grow this next year,” she said.