Husky Volunteers Program continues to engage students with their community

Husky Volunteers Program participants have logged community service hours, written reflections and established volunteer relations. The Husky Volunteers Program, created in 2015, encourages and recognizes student volunteer service through documenting thoughtful reflections. Volunteer service can be done on or off campus, on one’s own, or through UW Tacoma programs.  

Students who complete a specific number of hours are awarded a service medallion from the Center for Service and Leadership at the OSCARS student award ceremony in May. Participants have logged 11,172 hours from April 2018 to April 2019 and have been able to get more involved in helping their community and others around them.

The medallions are given to current graduating, undergraduate and graduate UWT students who want to make a difference through thoughtful service and volunteering. Program participants are awarded a silver medallion for their completion of at least five reflection logs and 100–200 hours of service, a purple medallion for completing ten reflection logs and 200–300 hours of service, and a gold medallion for completing 15 reflection logs and 300 or more hours of service.

To earn a service medallion, students need to complete a variety of steps. To receive a medallion, students must make an orientation to service appointment at the CSL, attend an orientation to service workshop, identify an organization to serve at if not already identified, log thoughtful service reflections, engage in a leadership social and submit a final reflection and application.

One of the many goals of the Husky Volunteers Program is to allow students to form or strengthen relationships in their communities through their volunteer work regardless of whether they’ve volunteered before, have a passion for helping others, or are just starting out. Two UWT students shared their current experiences of working toward earning their service medallions.

Barbie Weaver, a senior majoring in Criminal Justice, strives to set a good example. She aims to earn either a purple or gold service medallion.

“I decided to volunteer with different nonprofits in my community as a way to give back and make a positive impact to my community,” Weaver said. “I have two daughters 16, and 6, so I try to set a positive example for them to follow. I decided to do volunteer work before I actually knew of the Husky Volunteers program, so the service medallion is a bonus!”

Since her time starting at UWT, Weaver has volunteered at several places, such as the Squaxin Island Tribe Behavioral Health Suicide Prevention Coordinator with the Squaxin Island Elders, the Community Kitchen in Thurston County, Sidewalk in Thurston County and the Thurston County legal clinic.

Weaver has also volunteered at various on campus events including the Poverty Emergence experience and the blood drive. While volunteering has come with challenges, Weaver encourages other students to get involved with the Husky Volunteers program and serve in their communities.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world, and earn a medallion while you’re at it,” Weaver said.

Aliyah Jones, also a senior majoring in Criminal Justice, is working towards earning a silver service medallion. She decided to earn her medallion after seeing that she could make a change in all of her areas of interest.

“I am really interested in changing the criminal justice system,” Jones said. “I’m interested in education [and] I’m interested in learning about poverty issues. So I took those bigger ideas and I found my ways to be involved. It was really finding within myself my interests and just getting out there and knowing that there’s somewhere that I can make a connection with that.”

Not being from the Tacoma area, Jones was unaware of all the options she had for doing her service work. After having become a part of the Husky Volunteers Program, Jones credits the CSL for helping expand her volunteer options and sees this as a starting point in a larger journey of serving others.

Jones has volunteered at many places, including the Tacoma Rescue Mission, the Adam’s Street Family Shelter, Pierce County Juvenile Court, the American Heart Association, Relay For Life and the Department of Assigned Counsel. Because Jones has had many opportunities to serve and expand her interests, she hopes to help other students interested in being a part of the Husky Volunteers Program.

“All of these [volunteer experiences] have been pushing me to my goal of wanting to make a change,” Jones said. “[Other students] can do amazing things as well … and especially before I graduate, I want to leave an impact with other students because I have gotten so many amazing opportunities while I was here. I just want them to fully absorb that and know that you can get past barriers and there are people like me who will help you along the way.”

Leticia Bennett

Leticia is the News Editor for The Ledger. She is a Senior majoring an Urban Studies and hopes to become an Urban Planner. She is interested in all things happening around campus and loves to learn new things and meet new people.