By Shane Surrey
Going to college in a new city can be difficult, especially if don’t know what to do off-campus. Luckily, there are opportunities for community service not far from our school that will not only expose you to Los Angeles but enable you to help the community.
Community service, an important cornerstone for AJU, enables volunteers to learn a little about themselves while seeing firsthand how they can make a real impact.
SOVA is a food pantry in Van Nuys that works in tandem with the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles. Sova is a Hebrew word meaning “eat and be satisfied” – the organization is dedicated to feeding people who are at or below the poverty line.
According to the organization’s homepage, SOVA provides “free on-site services including legal advocacy, job counseling, nutrition counseling, food stamp enrollment, information and referrals, case management and counseling.”
Volunteers have the option to be either core volunteers, who work a scheduled four-hour shift each week, or occasional volunteers, who work on a more flexible schedule.
Another local volunteer organization, located off of Mulholland and Coldwater Canyon, is Tree People, an environment reconstruction program.
The organization’s website states: “TreePeople’s mission is to inspire, engage and support people to take personal responsibility for the urban environment, making it safe, healthy, fun and sustainable and to share the process as a model for the world.”
In addition, AJU has programs that immerse students in experiential community service. The Sophomore Service Learning Program, required for students entering the undergraduate program prior to their junior year, is a week long program that allows students to visit various organizations and talk to their representatives about what it is that they do.
Jessica Yuz, coordinator of the Sophomore Service Learning Program, explained, “Volunteerism is a part of the school’s mission.”
The second of the two programs is Upper Division Service Learning, which is satisfied by taking an Advanced Core Seminar with a service learning component. For example, the Prejudice Awareness Summit that took place earlier this semester was the service learning component of last fall’s Psychology of Prejudice class.
Next semester, both Psychology of Prejudice and Ethics and Society will be offered as ACS Service Learning courses.
Not only is volunteering an important part of the school’s mission, but it is also an important part of any community. None of us is isolated, and what affects others, be it hunger, poverty or injustice, ultimately affects everyone. Do your part and lend a helping hand.