Andrea Hampton had a list of potential nonprofit organizations she was considering helping as a volunteer — and it kept growing.
Hampton, a freshman from Memphis, Tennessee, was among numerous MTSU students attending the annual Volunteer Fair Tuesday, Sept. 2.
The fair lets registered nonprofits — Greenhouse Ministries, Linebaugh Public Library, G.I.R.L.S. Ranch and more than 30 others — recruit students to allow them to become plugged in to community service and volunteer opportunities in order to make a difference.
“It’s quick and easy,” said Hampton, who is a pre-professional health major who already had registered with the Hope Clinic, the Boys and Girls Club, G.I.R.L.S. Ranch and Candle Wishes before venturing off to meet the folks manning the MTSU Environmental Health and Safety/Stormwater Program.
In the process, Hampton understands the commitments on her part will allow her “to meet different types of people who have different values, and you will get to do different things outside of MTSU that you can connect with.”
Hampton seems quite interested in G.I.R.L.S. Ranch, a faith-based Middle Tennessee organization dedicated to investing in the emotional and spiritual lives of troubled girls and to encourage them to live to their fullest potential.
“In particular, they do a lot with (the areas of) teen pregnancy and sex trafficking,” Hampton said. “That attracted my attention. I want to show them there’s a different route from the path they are on now.”
Twelve years ago at age 16 and a Blackman High School underclassman, Jenny King Williams founded Candle Wishes, a Murfreesboro-headquartered organization that fulfills birthday wishes and provides essential needs for underprivileged children in Tennessee.
Seven years after graduating from MTSU, Candle Wishes executive director Williams returned with her faith-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit to participate in the Volunteer Fair along with her mother, Reta King, who serves as assistant director.
“It’s wonderful,” Williams said of the four-hour event. “We’ve already talked to tons of students. We’re hoping to get more students and campus organizations involved.”
Williams shared how Becky Lanham, founder and CEO of both Volunteer Rutherford and Volunteer Wilson, has pulled nonprofits into a unified group.
“Nonprofits in Rutherford County all are coming together,” Williams said. “There’s so much of a sense of working together and making it a better community. Nonprofits are having an impact and it’s a very group effort.”
Jackie Victory, director of Student Leadership and Service, said 34 organizations attended this year’s fair.
“This is just a great opportunity for students to be able to meet some of the agencies around Murfreesboro,” Victory said. “Some students need this for course work. Some students need it for other reasons. Some students just decide they want to serve the community.”
For more information about volunteering at MTSU, call Victory at 615-898-5812.
Week of Welcome activities continue from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3, with the Student Organization Fair in the Student Union Commons.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)