Coming from the big city of Los Angeles, it was hard to feel that I really was a part of the community. With Bloomington, both the university and the city felt like just one community, and I really felt a need to give back while I was a graduate student even if this time in grad school was just me passing through for a short time. Fortunately, it was really easy here in this particular city. Many do not know that Bloomington, Indiana, was the first city after New York City to have a municipal department dedicated to community service called the Volunteer Network.
For those who interested in providing social services while studying at IU, there are numerous chances for you to do so. Following the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Bloomington has a total of 1,082 nonprofit organizations (NGOs) in 2001 with a large percentage of arts and culture nonprofits. These NGOs focus mainly on human services and religious development. Living in a vibrant Bloomington community where there is large number of NGOs, the demand for your help and involvement is huge. While nonprofits in Bloomington are actively seeking for your help, IU also has lots of initiatives to connect you with the local community.
Asian Center organizes monthly meeting at the center to connect local organizations with students who wants to become a volunteer/intern for these organizations. Last time when I attended the meeting, there were representatives from the United Way of Monroe County, the Middle Way House, Stone Belt, Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington, Interfaith Winter Shelter. These organizations came to introduce their organizations’ programs and recruit volunteers/ interns to work for their programs. The purpose of the monthly meeting is also to discuss ways you as well as student organization group can reach out to the community. There are various funding options for you and the student groups to do these kinds of activities. Besides, IU Center for Student Leadership Development also has similar programs to enhance the connection between IU students and community organizations.
Getting involved outside of the classroom not only supplements your traditional education, but also helps to prepare you for life after graduation. You certainly will get lots of real-life opportunities while you prove your responsible engagement with the local community in which you live. And very important, you will have lots of fun joining in these community activities 🙂
Gronbjerg, Kristen and Tennen, Patricia, Bloomington Nonprofit Dimensions, (2005), http://www.indiana.edu/~nonprof/results/npsurvey/inscombloomington.pdf