Over the course of the 2011-2012 school year the Student Volunteer Center (SVC) has made a powerful impact on the UCSC and Santa Cruz communities. Having the privilege of being an intern fall, winter, and spring quarter I was lucky enough to experience the SVC greatness throughout the year. Each quarter the hardworking staff were joined by enthusiastic new interns, and together they threw events, held fundraisers, and provided numerous volunteer opportunities to students.

Fall quarter was my first time being an intern, and three other amazing ladies joined me. This quarter was filled with tons of events! We had the Volunteer Fair, Meal Plan/Flexi Dollar Drive, Giving Tree Program, Blood Drive, the first ever Santa and Nite Owl Cookies Intern Fundraiser, and awarded $1,980 in Community Service Project Grants. The Volunteer fair is one of our first events of the year, and it gives local organizations a chance to come onto campus and connect with students who are interested in volunteering. We had a total of 34 organizations present in the Quarry Plaza!

The Meal Plan/Felxi Dollar Drive was incredibly successful as well. Each student was able to donate up to 10 meals and $25 dollars in felxis. Our efforts combined with the support of Second Harvest Food Bank, Dinning Services, and Staff and Faculty we were able to raise $2,911! Our blood drive produced 93 units of usable blood, and our Santa and Nite Owl Cookie Fundraiser provided students with memorable pictures with Santa at UCSC along with delicious cookies to keep us all in the holiday spirit when finals were approaching. 

Lastly, my favorite event of fall quarter, Giving Tree, was extremely prosperous. I personally loved this event because I believe there is nothing more special than seeing a child’s face sparkle when opening a present from Santa. We were able to collect over 200 items needed by children from the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center and the Jesus Mary and Joseph Home, and distributed their needs on ornaments located in UCSC and local organizations’ offices. After wrapping all the presents staff members delivered them and we received some adorable pictures in return.

During winter quarter I had the pleasure of interning for a second time with two other new hardworking ladies. This quarter was extra special because SVC hosted their very first Family Student Housing Carnival. This event was tons of fun for everyone. The families, children, volunteers, and the SVC crew had an amazing time. We staffed carnival game booths, provided carnival sweets, treats, and lunch, had dancing, a live performance from Comedy Joust, and more! I enjoyed interacting with such special children for the day. Their playful energy gave us just the right dose of enthusiasm to keep up the hard work for the remainder of the quarter. In that time we had a Giveaway Event Fundraiser, a second blood drive, and another $2921.14 was awarded in Community Service Project Grants!

Over Spring Break SVC embarked on their annul Alternative Spring Break Program, which this year, went to Miami, Florida. I was fortunate enough to be a part of this SVC event as well. In total, we took fourteen students and one advisor on a trip we would remember forever. Being exposed to one of the highest economic divisions of wealth in the US gave us real meaning to the work we were doing with Habitat for Humanity. Each day we would begin building on a house bright and early. When our work was finished we took advantage of the opportunity of being in a new place to explore Miami. Over the course of the trip we were able to eat delicious food, help a deserving family have a new home, make new friends, and found a new appreciation for the work of a contractor. However, most importantly we were able to be proactive members of society in the fight against poverty.

In the final quarter of the year SVC tackled multiple tasks. The first was the intern fundraiser, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts that sponsored Relay for Life. We were able to sell 300 doughnuts to hungry UCSC students raising over $200 dollars! This was the most profitable fundraiser of the year and the profit could not have gone to a better cause. SVC once again participated in Relay for Life with their annual team, however this was my first experience in the event. I have to say that it was probably one of the highlights of my UCSC career so far. Having so many powerful people unite around a common goal to help fight back against cancer was a magical experience. Also to raise money for Relay we held a concert, Hip Hop for a Cause. Local talent came together to perform as we tried to raise some money the night before Relay. In total, the Student Volunteer Center raised over $1,500.

Another highlight of spring quarter was our annual Service Recognition Ceremony. This was the first year it was held at the University Catering catered the event and Cloud 9 gave a special performance. This was a special ceremony because students who have shown exemplary service in the community were honored for all their hard work.

Throughout the whole year our Director Chris Silva, Programs Director William Brotherson, and Operations Director Brenda Beltran have kept the Student Volunteer Center running as a prestigious organization here on campus. I have enjoyed this opportunity to get involved with my school and feel connected to the university in a way I did not before my experience interning at SVC. I encourage everyone to stop by our office who is looking for a special intern experience, wanting to volunteer, or just to say hello! Remember a single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up to make new trees. Get involved, make a difference.