Britnie Newman is looking for a few good volunteers.
Newman was representing the Jackson Street Youth Shelter in Corvallis on Thursday at the Nonprofit and Volunteering Expo at the Memorial Union at Oregon State University. She was among the nonprofit representatives who answered questions about the shelter and discussed volunteer - and career - opportunities with the nonprofit sector.
With demand for services up and donations down, nonprofits face the constant challenge of attracting both good paid staff and volunteers to keep services available.
"Right now, we're looking for mentors," Newman said. Newman said the shelter, a nonprofit home for homeless, runaway and in-crisis youth ages 10 through 17, can find work for up to 100 volunteers at any given time.
"It's a small shelter, but it runs a lot of volunteers," she said.
Last year, Newman - a winter 2010 graduate of OSU - was in the same spot as many of the students at this year's expo. Then she struck up a conversation with Dawson Officer, the director of resource development for United Way of Benton and Lincoln Counties. The information from the talk led to an internship at the Corvallis United Way office last spring and summer, and that helped her land a job as Jackson Street's volunteer coordinator.
At this year's expo, the booths for United Way and Jackson Street were mere feet away.
"We're all just one big family," Newman said.
Adry Clark, the assistant director of OSU's Career Services, said 55 organizations attended this year's expo, sponsored by both Career Services and OSU's Community Service Center. Besides local nonprofits, national organizations such as the Red Cross and AmeriCorps were also on hand to speak with students and community members.
Rather than lump this expo with the larger career fairs, Clark said the Nonprofit and Volunteering Expo instead enables students to learn about opportunities to fulfill community needs. Speaking with recruiters at traditional career fairs often serves as an informal interview, adding pressure to people looking for a job.
"Here, (students) are more excited to talk to people," Clark said.
She also explained that with more than 300 nonprofits in Benton County alone, the mid-valley offers plenty of opportunities for anyone who wants to learn by doing good works.
Steven Simpson, a spring 2010 graduate of OSU in exercise and sport science, checked out volunteer opportunities at both Jackson Street and College Hill High School and is volunteering now at the Boys & Girls Club. He plans to be a teacher and volunteering is helping him as he moves toward graduate school.
"I'm just trying to figure out what I want to do," he said.
Contact Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.