One of the best ways to prepare for a career in social work is to get involved in your community and be a volunteer. Volunteering provides a necessary service, and volunteers gain a great deal of satisfaction from knowing that they have made a difference in the lives of others. Becoming a volunteer can:
1. help you decide whether social work is really the profession for you.
2. help you decide what populations you may or may not want to work with.
3. develop your skills and help you retain textbook knowledge.
4. give you experience to include on your resume.
5. boost your confidence
6. enhance your own comfort with diverse groups.
How Do You Get Started?
There are many opportunities to volunteer in Marquette and the surrounding area. For NMU students we suggest that you begin with:
NMU Volunteer Center
The organization is part of the Center for Student Enrichment. This office coordinates all of the volunteer opportunities for NMU students in conjunction with the Marquette County Volunteer Center.
Child and Family Services of the Upper Peninsula (906-226-1516)
Child and Family Services is one of the Upper Peninsula is one of several Northern Michigan Private Child and Family Service agencies. They offer several opportunities for volunteers, including:
"The Success Partners" is a mentoring program for high-risk youth who have multiple risk factors. Volunteers are asked to commit three hours a week to a youth. In return they are paid $20.00 a session, paid mileage, and also reimbursed for activities such as bowling or movies.
"The Before & After School Program" recruits volunteers who may play with or do homework with children before and after school in several schools in the county. Last year this program served 500 area children. Volunteers are considered role models for the children who are, also, asked to participate in volunteer activities in the area. The children rake leaves and plant bulbs in the local school yards.
Lutheran Social Services (906-226-7410)
This agency uses volunteers in a variety of ways but particularly with the homeless youth programs. They use volunteers to help facilitate Life Skills classes in the alternative high school, to plan and organize fund raising and recreation activities with youth, to chaperone dances or to work with children in a low income housing area. They also use volunteers in the Transitional Living House to visit with drop-in youth and to help in the pantry. These programs reach youth in four other counties and volunteer experiences are available in those counties.
Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS was formerly the Family Independence Agency) (226-9691)
Volunteers transport clients to medical appointments, bring them to treatment or residential centers, do clerical work, or supervise parent visitations. There are DHS agencies in every county. Click on "County Offices" link on DHS Web site to locate one near you.
Pathways to Healthy Living (formerly Community Mental Health) For more information call: Community Relations Office: 906-233-1288 or 1-888-728-4929 extension 31288
Pathways is a multi-county agency serving Marquette, Delta, Alger and Luce Counties. Pathways' primary service populations are the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled. They run a wide array of services; a volunteer experience at Pathways is an excellent supplement to your formal education.
Theses are just a few of the various agencies that utilize volunteers. You can generally find a volunteer experience to suit your interest. If you reside outside the Marquette County area, you should be able to find similar opportunities through a local volunteer center or social agency similar to those listed above.