Volunteer workshop promotes gravity of service

Geneseo’s campus is filled with many amazing people who are interested in service and try to make a difference in people’s lives daily. 

One of these people led an event to encourage and inspire others to do the same. 

Garth Freeman, the Coordinator of Student Leadership, Volunteerism and Service, led a Volunteerism, Engagement and Service event with the Geneseo Opportunity for Leadership Development program on Monday Jan. 22. Freeman has a history of community and service experience by holding other positions such as the Program Coordinator of Rochester AmeriCorps. 

Freeman began the presentation by having students brainstorm the differences between direct service, advocacy and philanthropy, and the differences between membership and volunteerism. 

“I think it’s important to differentiate these things because these are the ways that you figure out how you want to get involved personally in engaging the community. I don’t mean to do this to value one over the other, because I think volunteering is just as important as being a member and direct service is just as important as advocacy,” Freeman said. “The reason I want to explain the differences in these workshops is so you can figure out where you want to place yourself, and learn how to tap into your strengths and tap into your interests.” 

The event had a small turnout, allowing for a close-knit discussion forum and for everyone to participate in the conversation. 

“I came to this event to get more knowledge about certain volunteer programs that are offered,” psychology major junior Dimitri Wing-Paul said. “I’m also an RA and I wanted to get some ideas to promote volunteerism for my residents.”

During the event, a handout was distributed that included a short story titled “A Bed for the Night,” by Bertolt Brecht, which tells the story of a man who finds available beds for homeless people during the winter months to prevent them from freezing outside at night. 

The purpose of the story was to explain why people should serve, and the story states, “It won’t change the world / It won’t improve relations among men / It will not shorten the age of exploitation / But a few men have a bed for the night / For a night the wind is kept from them / The snow meant for them falls on the roadway.”   

Attendees discussed that the story argues that doing one nice thing for someone will not change the world; however, everyone agreed that the story argues the importance of making a difference in people’s lives regardless of this fact.

“When you are engaged in these types of [service] activities, whether it be a small act or a long-term commitment, you get to live out your ideals in a way that makes you feel really good and it is an example to other people,” Freeman said. “You’re not only affecting the people that you are helping, it ripples out in ways that you don’t even know.” 

If students are looking for more ways to become involved in service areas on-campus, there are a variety of ways to do so.

“If [students] are interested in volunteering, they can go to the Center for Community or if they want to know more about some of the organizations on-campus that they could get involved with they could come to the GOLD office and we could help them get involved.”  

GOLD leader mentor junior Dilynn Livesey said.

Overall, this event was a success in creating a dialogue about why students should give back to the people around them and got students excited about other opportunities available to them throughout the Geneseo community.