Updated: Nov 14
The COVID-19 pandemic altered how Salisbury University volunteer organizations could operate, but the groups are now learning to adjust during the slow transition back to normal.
Many of SU’s registered student organizations were created to connect students to the community through volunteer service, which became a challenge with social distancing mandates due to the pandemic.
“Our organization is built on the foundation of community service,” said Rachel Evans, co-president and treasurer of Student United Way at SU. “It’s really hard to do that when things start to shut down.”
The non-profit student organization was created to help SU students get involved with their surrounding community, but the inability to do activities in person made it difficult to carry out that mission.
Evans said the group remained involved in every way they could during the peak of the pandemic. She said SUW cleaned up Parsons Cemetery and performed other services that allowed them to space out and still benefit the community.
The organization implemented a new approach using Zoom meetings and hosted a virtual 5K run, which they will hold again this year, according to former President Johannah Cooper.
“We tried to do the best we could with [COVID-19], but it was difficult to get folks engaged,” Cooper said.
Some members now have experience as members of RSOs both pre and post-pandemic, while other students in the midst of COVID-19 and are now beginning to see what it’s like to connect face-to-face.
Jaydan Fogo, SUW’s recruitment and volunteer coordinator, said she began with the group during their hybrid system, though being able to do more in person has now made the experience much better.
Girls on Top, another volunteer organization at SU, faced similar obstacles, according to Community Service Co-Chair Kaylynn Boswell.
“I think, like a lot of organizations on campus, rebuilding has been a really big focus this semester,” Boswell said.
Abigail Slovick, the group’s fellow community service co-chair, said GOT members are excited to do things together again and want to make sure everyone feels safe during the transition back to in-person community service events.
“If [members] feel more comfortable being in a small group, they have that opportunity,” Slovick said.
While COVID-19 remains a concern, all community service-based RSOs are moving back to many pre-pandemic procedures with a new perspective.
Slovick said volunteering is crucial to the community and that she will participate in whatever way she can.
“It’s important to me that I make sure the residents of Salisbury know that I love and appreciate the home they gave me for the time that I’m here,” Slovick said.
For more information about getting involved on campus and in the surrounding Salisbury community, visit the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership.
By GEORGIA FOSTER
Featured image courtesy of Salisbury University Girls on Top of the World.