Whether students are interested in helping to feed the poor or read to local children, the Care Fair will have plenty of options for potential volunteers with over 50 nonprofit organizations setting up in the Arbor today.
The fair, sponsored by the Associated Students Community Affairs Board (CAB), offers community service opportunities to students and represents several community organizations, international nonprofits and campus agencies, said Pam Van Dyk, CAB community volunteer coordinator. The fair runs from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and includes a wide range of organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Best Buddies program and the Santa Barbara Zoo.
Van Dyk, who has run the fair for the last seven years, said it has traditionally been successful because it recruits so many volunteers.
CAB External Community Coordinator Andres Mantilla said the volunteer work allows participants to become more community-minded.
“It’s so easy to be focused on UCSB’s party atmosphere, but through participating here, you realize that we live in a family community,” said Mantilla, a fourth-year Latin American history and Spanish literature major.
CAB is the largest student-run, funded and organized community service group in the nation, Mantilla said. The group hosts weekly meetings to introduce new projects and opportunities to its members, and guest speakers from local nonprofits also frequent the meetings to recruit student volunteers, he said. The group uses these contacts to keep students connected to new volunteer opportunities with their “Care Mail” system, which sends information to about 500 students every week.
Yuliana Noniyeva, a fourth-year psychology and communication major, said she has been involved with CAB since she attended its fair last year.
“I just remember walking by the table and not knowing what CAB was,” Noniyeva said. “It appealed to me because there was a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of variety in the volunteer projects.”
According to a CAB brochure, the group is comprised of 30 to 50 students and is connected to over 400 local nonprofit agencies. Members, for example, developed and now run the Family Literacy Program, which matches over 100 UCSB students with a child each in the community, Van Dyk said. The student visits the child’s home for one to two hours each week and reads to him or her. Members participate in at least 15 community service projects every quarter.
Van Dyk said her experience with CAB has been worthwhile.
“CAB is the best place to be at UCSB,” Van Dyk said. “It provides a meaningful experience for students to extend themselves beyond their academic pursuits, which should be their first priority. They feel more fulfilled and it gives them a greater appreciation for what they have.”
CAB vice-chair Michelle LeBrun, a fourth-year political science and law & society major, said working in CAB’s programs, especially at Camp Ronald McDonald for children with cancer, has changed her life by showing her the importance of making an impact on the lives of others.
The CAB office is located in the UCen and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday. It has meetings every Tuesday from 5 to 6:30 p.m.