Despite limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Morgridge Center for Public Service continues to connect student volunteers with community partners and non-profits.
While working virtually has brought on new challenges, some have been more difficult to overcome than others. Xai Xiong, communications and marketing specialist for the center, commented on the restrictions brought by the pandemic.
“A lot of our work, at the Morgridge Center, is heavily reliant on face-to-face, interpersonal communication, and when you take that away you really strip the foundations of how we build relationships with community partners and students and faculty, across the state and across the nation,” said Xiong. “A lot of it has been restricted but it hasn’t stopped us from finding creative ways to engage.”
Students are still able to get involved, just not in the ways they may have imagined. Online platforms like Zoom allow students to continue to contribute to their community.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Morgridge Center partnered with 80 community organizations that students visited weekly. Transportation was provided for students to volunteer at their assigned sites 2-4 hours per week, but now this participation is virtual.
“But, we are still up in front and we are still strong,” said Xiong.
While the virtual platform may cause setbacks, the overall goal of the Morgridge Center is still unchanged.
“In short, the Morgridge Center is just here to bridge the gap between campus and community,” said Xiong.
While the sign up for Badger Volunteers, the semester-long service programs where students work with an organization for 1-4 hours each week, closed on Sept. 10, Xiong encourages students to find more ways to get involved. Students can also meet virtually with peer advisors who can help match students with their ideal service opportunity.
“Badger volunteer registration closed, but if you visit our website, we are always looking for students to help out,” he said.
Not only are there volunteering opportunities, there are also fellowships and ways to get involved with civic engagement, like the Badgers Vote Coalition. Xiong urged everyone, especially first year students, to get involved.
“When campus opens up again, take advantage of those opportunities that you weren’t able to take a part of,” said Xiong.