Annual Community engagement expo offers networking opportunities for Gannon students

Gannon University held its annual Community Engagement Expo Tuesday in the Yehl Ballroom.

In attendance were over 20 nonprofit organizations from the Erie community, all of which were eagerly searching for Gannon students looking to volunteer.

These organizations ranged from the United Way to the Mental Health Association located between 11th and 12th on Peach Street.

Some other organizations that could be found at the expo were WQLN Public Media, Special Olympics, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Erie Soldiers and Sailors home located on East Third Street.

Ken Vybiral, who was at the expo to represent the Soldiers and Sailors Home, said his organization has a wide range of opportunities for volunteer hours. Vybiral went on to explain the specific types of services that they need most.

“We really need volunteers for one-on-one time with our residents,” said Vybiral.

“A lot of them don’t have any family, and this type of service really means a lot to them.”

While this type of volunteer work aides the older members of the Erie community, there are also plenty of options for volunteer work with children.

One organization that revolves around serving the younger members of the community is the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network, located on East 26th Street.

Gloria Shotwell, the network’s program director, said her group is always looking for volunteers.

“We need help all the time,” said Shotwell.

“Our newest program takes bikes donated from around the community and after five weeks of teaching community children how to fix the bikes, they get to keep them and take them home.”

This is just one program the network has that serves area children, Shotwell said.

With the amount of organizations being represented, there are a great variety of service opportunities for Gannon students.

However, Erika Ramalho, the director of Government Relations at Gannon, said that this event wasn’t just about service.

Ramalho described the event as a “service festival as well as a community engagement expo.”

“I believe that this festival is not only a great way for students to find service opportunities, but it’s also great opportunity for them to begin establishing a network in the community,” she said.

“You could begin by volunteering for an organization, but that relationship could result in an internship in the future.”

Needless to say, for students looking for volunteer work and that want to make connections in the community, there are a multitude of nonprofit organizations that are available throughout the Erie community.

CHARLES LEAR

[email protected]