Through the orientation process as a freshman, Brittany Tedeschi learned of an office on campus called the Butler Center for Service and Leadership (SLC) that could get her involved at the unversity.
With the assistance of the SLC, the senior majoring in psychology started her own program, “The Tunnel of Oppression.”
Tedeschi said the Butler Center has made a big difference in her college career.
Keith Fletcher, the director of the center, said the center’s growth has been phenomenal.
“The office is booming with 68 percent of students currently performing community service during their time at the university; and that number is growing each year,” he said.
Besides acting as a processing hub for most community volunteering programs and service days at UM, the SLC links more than 80 percent of on-campus organizations like Invisible Children.
One of the service days that grows in popularity is the National Gandhi Day of Service, which is held in the fall to commemorate the late humanitarian’s birthday.
“Last year we had more students volunteer for this service day than any other off-campus event,” Fletcher said.
Haley Gordon, a sophomore who works in the SLC, said the center acts as a liaison for close to 500 community partners, providing placement for students who want to volunteer once or for longer periods.
“The SLC has not just been a resource to expand your horizons and try new things, but it has been a haven for students who want to do more with their academic career than just attend classes,” said recent graduate Janki Amin, a volunteer in the Butler Center who was twice chair of National Gandhi Day of Service and a former president of Invisible Children.
Fletcher and others in the SLC believe that volunteering is a great way to give back to the community as well as giving back to oneself. Through placement quizzes and assessments, members of the center can find what activities best suit one’s abilities and where one wants to be in life.
“This can be beneficial in today’s tough, competitive economic environment,” said Fletcher, adding that the SLC has made it possible for freshmen to get involved by having first-year students serve on organization committees.
Another mission of the SLC is to provide Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) for students. A number of programs that fall under the LEAD program assist students in building their leadership skills through workshops, certificate programs and organizations, including those targeting freshman and transfer students.
There are a limited amount of open slots for each program, so apply early.
“It has given me a place to interact with a diverse group of people who are more interested in bettering the campus, community and world,” senior Chelsea Werner, former president of Invisible Children, said.