Wednesday marked the 20th anniversary of Ohio Wesleyan’s Service Fair, and, appropriately, it was the biggest one ever.
Twenty-nine community agencies and 10 campus organizations staffed tables, seeking to interest OWU students in donating their time and talent.
There were opportunities for every kind of service, including crisis intervention, tutoring and mentoring, and animal advocacy.
“This event is key for some of our agencies,” says Sue Pasters, Director of Community Service Learning. “Some of them get all of their volunteers from this one day. Many of our community partners have a very loyal following—students who are passionate about a cause, and those students are here to sign up right away.”
Donna Hughes was recruiting for Girl Scouts. “You don’t have to have any Girl Scout experience to be part of what we do,” Hughes says. “Since college students are young adults, they work with us to serve as mentors to middle school and high school girls. They also lead a troop at Woodward Family Resource Center. “Last year,” Hughes continues, “we had a very successful program that drew middle school girls from all over the area, not just from Delaware. It was called Rest, Relax, and Dance and helped girls learn how to de-stress and about the benefits of exercise.”
Associate Chaplain Chad Johns was staffing the Mission Teams table. A new team is forming this year to provide aid to flood-stricken Nashville. “This team was the brainchild of Kit Faiella ’11, the president of Chi Phi fraternity, who wanted to have a Greek-oriented team, and there is a need in Nashville that hasn’t been as well-documented as some other natural disasters,” Johns says. “The ‘oldest’ of the Mission Teams, all of which are sponsored by the Office of the Chaplain, is probably Love and Hope Ministries in El Salvador, if you mean consecutive years. We’re going back for our sixth year there. However, the Lakota Mission and the Habitat Mission are older in terms of the length of time we’ve been involved in them. They haven’t always been consecutive years, however.”
The OWU Haiti Initiative is in its formative stages, says Brenda DeWitt, Director of Alumni Relations, who recently returned from the island. “One of our alumni, Doug Dittrick ’55, has been active in Haiti for years, and we’re trying to find ways for Ohio Wesleyan to provide service to the orphanage he has been involved with for so long,” DeWitt says. “There are 800 boys and 75 girls there now; they need to build a girls’ dormitory, and they’re putting in a whole new kitchen. Right now, they do all the cooking outdoors over charcoal. Doug’s orphanage could be a wonderful place for OWU students, from all kinds of departments, to serve.”
In her welcome to Service Fair participants, Pasters noted that this was the first time all the community partners had been together since Ohio Wesleyan was honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in General Community Service.
Ohio Wesleyan students provided more than 10,000 hours of service in Delaware alone and nearly 45,000 hours locally, nationally, and internationally.
She thanked the partners for “all you do to make Delaware a wonderful place to live and an ideal place for students to learn.”