GV hosts Nonprofit Volunteer and Internship fair

Erin Grogan

The Literacy Center of West Michigan, founded in 1986, is the regional leader on adult and family literacy and helps more than 1,000 adults and families annually. As it seeks volunteers to continue its services, it is one of more than 50 nonprofit organizations that will have representatives in the Henry Hall Atrium today from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. during the Nonprofit Volunteer and Internship fair.

The fair is hosted by the Community Service Learning Center and the Career Center at Grand Valley State University.

The Literacy Center of West Michigan has more than 300 volunteers and is looking for students willing to help with the adult tutoring program or family literacy nights.

“Literacy means more than being able to read,” said Valerie Emmenecker, the literacy coordinator and supervisor of the adult tutoring program. “It’s about understanding and applying language correctly and enriching lives at home, at work and in the community. The organization is committed to helping West Michigan residents reach their full potential, thereby opening the door to a lifetime of opportunity.”

The Nonprofit and Internship fair will play host to representatives from a wide range of organizations from education to health and human services. Most are based within a 30-minute radius of Grand Rapids, said fair coordinator Laura Murnen.

“We always have a couple of different organizations show up, which shows we are reaching out to the Grand Rapids community and our name is getting out there,” Murnen said. “It shows our students are known for being great volunteers.”

The West Michigan Refugee Education and Cultural Center, located in downtown Grand Rapids, will also have representatives at the fair. Since 2006, the center has worked with refugees from Somalia, Sudan, parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Iraq. Soon it will also assist refugees from Syria.

“We are hoping to start recruiting new volunteers for this semester,” said Susan Kragt, the executive director. “We also do a literacy program in the summer, and we’re really looking for folks already for that because it’s a pretty big program and it involves a lot of volunteer hours.”

Another booth at the fair will be Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC), a Christian organization that has been dedicated to helping the poor and needy in Allendale and Cooperville. Love INC works with almost 30 area churches and provides more than 20 ministries, including food pantries, home repairs and a coat closet.

While there is no registration or fee for students attending the fair, Murnen said the CSLC asks students to check in at its table to receive a list of organizations attending.

“There’s something for everyone there, and you can find something that you’re really passionate about,” Murnen said. “We’ve had students find opportunities to volunteer with these organizations and then stay on with these organizations it the future.”