PCCV begins year of service with open houses

Monday, Oct 1, 2018
by Benjamin Gelman '22, Pace Center Student Correspondent

Arriving at Princeton can mean an avalanche of information and options for new students, with plenty of different classes and activities to choose from. With service being such a central part of the Princeton undergraduate experience, the Pace Council for Civil Values (PCCV) has been making efforts to introduce service at Princeton, but in a more personal way through a series of open houses for service organizations.

Organized around themes like "health" or "migration and criminal justice" student leaders and volunteers representing a wide range of student organizations and service projects are available to speak to prospective volunteers about their causes, what kinds of activities they organize, and what students can do to get involved.  

Rachel Kasdin, PCCV Chair of Recruitment and Orientation, described how the idea for open houses was conceived when leaders realized that the Student Activities Fairs in and outside Dillon Gym can be overwhelming for some students, and that there needed to be a smaller, more intimate way to learn about service opportunities. An open house could provide a space where students could learn about their service options in a more casual, conversational space. 

“We also wanted a space for people who work on related projects to get to know each other, and for this to be a casual space for people to learn about each other’s work,” she added.

All the groups invited are affiliated with the Pace Center.

The theme for the first open house on September 24 was health, and a variety of diverse groups were represented, including Princeton Students For Reproductive Health, Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program, Camp Kesem Princeton, Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center volunteering, Letters to Strangers, CONTACT Princeton, and TigerTAILS.

PCCV Open House

Photo by Gwen McNamara      Student leaders with health-related service projects and student organizations share about their programs and experiences with prospective volunteers.

The Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness program spoke to students about how they can engage with their community to spread awareness of kidney disease. While they are a relatively new club, they plan to organize one kidney screening per semester that will test kidney function and include a consultation from a physician, so that visitors can understand their results. These screens will be free for everyone in the community. 

Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center volunteers came to discuss their group, which volunteers at the medical center 15 minutes away. After a month-long application and orientation process, students begin working one three hour shift a week volunteering in the hospital. Examples of what student duties may be are making sure patients are having all their needs met and preparing rooms for incoming patients. Applications for fall volunteering were due this past July, and if students wish to volunteer in the spring, applications are due in December.

CONTACT Princeton, an organization through which students can assist running a crisis hotline, spoke to potential volunteers about their initiatives in suicide prevention and mental health. CONTACT members undergo 10 weeks of training in active listening and suicide prevention.  This training includes role playing and learning about what community members may be calling about. CONTACT also takes calls from the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, and runs an online chat service.

Students who came to the health night of the open houses were introduced to plenty of different options for health-related service. For those interested in other areas of service, this upcoming week the Pace Lounge (Frist 201)  will be hosting open houses this week on the following schedule:

  • Monday, October 1 - Education
  • Tuesday, October 2 - Hunger and Homelessness
  • Wednesday, October 3 - Arts and Innovation

All open houses will be from 5-6 pm.