Aiming to foster a deeper understanding of the volunteer experience, the Harvard College Library (HCL) honored HCL employees who make lasting contributions to their communities, at a volunteer fair on Tuesday, March 12, in the Gutman Conference Center of Gutman Library. The daylong event, a collaborative effort between the HCL joint council and administration, showcased volunteer opportunities and workshops that detailed volunteers’ personal accounts.
Opening the event, an award presentation recognized HCL employees who take their talents, time, and energy beyond work and into their communities. The presentation featured keynote speaker Virginia Hutchison, chair of the board of directors, Harvard Neighbors, and lifelong volunteer. Hutchison gave the history of her own volunteerism, illuminating many diverse ways to offer help, support, and encouragement to those in need. Nancy Cline, Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College, and Jeffrey Horrell, associate librarian of Harvard College for Collections, presented certificates of recognition to the HCL volunteer honorees, whose experiences ranged from the AIDS Action Committee in Boston to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Nonprofit organizations set up fair exhibits in an adjoining room and remained open throughout the day. Representatives were on hand to discuss volunteer options within their organizations and to distribute literature. Recording books on tape for the blind and dyslexic, tutoring at-risk children, and building houses for low-income families were a few of the volunteer opportunities presented at the fair.
Throughout the afternoon, workshops offered an in-depth look at volunteering from both volunteers and volunteer coordinators. The first workshop, titled “The Volunteer Experience in First Person,” consisted of a panel of HCL employees who related personal experiences about the joys, rewards, and challenges of being a volunteer. In “Group Volunteerism Another Way to Serve” Matthew Savage, volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Boston, described how to plan and promote a group volunteer project. Mimi Sun and Christina Dunn, members of the University’s Office of Human Resources, explained how their office coordinated a group volunteer project with Habitat for Humanity instead of an office picnic. The final workshop, “The Harvard Bridge to Learning and Literacy Program Needs YOU,” led by Carol Kolenik and Carla Fontaine of the Bridge Program, covered how HCL employees could get involved in this University initiative.