Helping Hands Don't Quit Due to Coronavirus

Posted April 24, 2020, 7:26AM

Changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have affected nearly every aspect of campus life.

Just as professors had to recalibrate lessons to be delivered online,  staff in the Office of Community Engagement and Service Learning had to find new ways for students to fulfill their service requirements while observing social distancing recommendations.

As it turned out, they were not only able to provide valuable assistance to agencies, but also more choices for students, said Calleen Herbert, director of Community Engagement and Service at NCCU.

“The virtual opportunities mean that a student can volunteer with a hometown agency or even one on the other side of the country,” Herbert said. “More and more students are finding ways to do that.”

Many services that provide credit for volunteer hours can be delivered by telephone or online, such as tutoring, phone banking and even a charity walk.

Tutors who had been working with middle school students at Union Baptist Church After Care are being given a chance to continue that work through Zoom or Facetime, according to the coordinator for the program, Guy Garrett.

Even those who had planned on earning 10 service hours at the 46th annual Durham Crop Walk on April 5 were not disappointed.

Senior psychology major Amber Kalu was worried about fulfilling her remaining service hours in the era of social distancing. Some public events were eliminated due to coronavirus concerns; however, virtual participation was still possible in many cases.

Instead of the customary mass gathering, Crop Walk participants were told to choose their own time and place to complete the 5K. They also submitted a $5 registration fee, a photo or video of themselves during the walk, a Map My Walk screen shot, and a short follow-up essay about the purpose behind the mission.

“I’m not that tech savvy, but I had done everything else to be able to graduate in May, so I was ready to give it a try,” Kalu said.

“It was fun. I walked in my neighborhood and talked to people on my walk from a safe distance. I was pushing a stroller and holding my 7-year-olds’ hand.”

Kalu sent photos of her crew on the walk and is preparing to graduate in May.

“I was grateful I could finally knock that out and get it done,” she added.

Students who want to learn more about Community Engagement and Service options can visit the Get Connected page on NCCU’s MyEOL website.

 

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