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Make a Difference Fair

by Matt Knox

Organizations from across the state, including many in the New Britain area gathered in Alumni Hall on Monday for the first Make a Difference Fair.

Jessica Hernandez, the director for the Office of Community Engagement hailed the event as a chance for students and professors alike to make connections with local organizations they may want to work with.

According to Hernandez, the event was created in part because she realized that the various members of the CCSU community have become more involved with volunteer work over the years. Many organizations arrived at the event with sign-up sheets and bowls of candy ready to entice students walking by. The groups present ranged from TRIO, Urban Oaks Organic Farm, CMHA, The New Britain Youth Museum, and the Campus of Compassion Initiative.

At the TRIO booth, recruitment was a serious goal for the program. TRIO hires university students as tutors for children and young adults in middle and high school. In New Britain, over 500 students benefit from it. It also helps those same students with SAT prep and the college admission process. It needs a well-rounded group of workers, with majors in math, science and English. Right now, English majors are needed most. They’re currently working on a project using 3D printers, a fairly new, high-tech industry, to produce items for clients.

In another alley of the fair,  Jim Malley encouraged visitors to sign a pledge of compassion. Those who signed it pledged to act with compassion towards others, and try to protect everyone from the kind of violence that seems all too common in our world today. Malley is also in the process of having CCSU designated as a Campus of Compassion. President Jack Miller would sign the agreement, and catapult CCSU into a growing social movement that has spread around the globe.

Kimberly Langin, a team leader with Americorps was a younger face in the booth-running crowd. Americorps is for those of us who have no interest in leaving the country, or realize that we have many unsolved problems in our own country. Americorps is very similar to the Peace Corps, except that all work is done here in the United States.  Langin is in her second year working in the Vista program, a one-year, full-time job. Participants are paid at the poverty wage of wherever they are working.

In total, 32 organizations showed up to the event and brought with them the spirit of volunteer work.

“This gives students a chance to practice what they learn in class and for teachers to incorporate new organizations into their classes,” said Hernandez.