The Trinity University Volunteer Action Committee (TUVAC) has worked for years to connect the Trinity community with an abundance of volunteering opportunities. About two months ago, the Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success hired Scott Brown as an assistant director, giving him the opportunity to serve as staff advisor for the organization.
“TUVAC has been around for over 40 years, so I know there’s a rich history here and that’s something I want to build on and enhance,” Brown said. “That requires listening and understanding what TUVAC’s presence is, where we have been and where we want to go.”
Brown works directly with five student coordinators to help plan different volunteering projects. He would like to link TUVAC activities to the Trinity Tomorrow plan, which seeks to build up opportunities for experiential learning through the cultivation of Trinity’s core values of impact, discovery, excellence, the individual and community.
“I think we’re well-positioned and increasing the number of experiential learning opportunities for students,” Brown said. “TUVAC can certainly be a vehicle for that because it really fits nicely into the core values of the institution. It empowers students to go out into the community, get a sense of what San Antonio is like, expand their worldview and make an impact through service.”
As the staff advisor of TUVAC, one of Brown’s goals is to enhance and increase the number of volunteer opportunities in the community, particularly for Trinity students.
“We seek to understand what students’ needs and interests are regarding volunteering and community service. We do site visits in the city of San Antonio and really listen to the students, getting a sense of what their needs are and then trying to find the match between student interest and community organization interest, making sure that we provide enough opportunities for our students to get involved and to serve,” Brown said.
From the beginning of his time at Trinity, Brown saw how involved Trinity students are in volunteering. He is grateful for the opportunities he has had to work with the TUVAC coordinators and other students.
“The five coordinators that I’ve worked with so far have been incredible,” Brown said. “I’m learning more about what it means to be a Trinity student, and every day I’m amazed at how they can balance all those competing responsibilities.”
Brown hopes that TUVAC will integrate the five core values so as to promote even more learning and growth for their many volunteers.
“Because TUVAC is under the Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success, I think there is an opportunity there to integrate experiential learning components around education, service and the reflection component,” Brown said. “My vision moving forward is to figure out how to make these volunteering opportunities more educational and reflective in nature, so that we are enhancing the learning opportunity.”
Last January, TUVAC underwent a restructuring so that there were volunteer coordinators who could help out on a larger scale. This was established in place of having program heads for individual events. Each coordinator is in charge of a specific cluster, such as animal welfare, environmental protection or the food bank.
“When I became a volunteer coordinator, my biggest problem was really getting people to commit to the events they’d signed up to attend,” said Pooja Bollampally, a senior sociology major and volunteer coordinator for TUVAC, “But everyone that did go was very passionate about it.”
Bollampally is in charge of the health and wellness cluster, which provides her with plenty of opportunities to work with hospitals and the San Antonio AIDS Foundation, among several other organizations.
“One of our biggest events is San Antonio State Hospital,” Bollampally said. “We go to mental hospitals to give a sense of normalcy to patients there because there is a large stigmatization around mental illness and how a lot of people aren’t really accepting of others who have been diagnosed with mental illness, so we go to talk to them and help them feel accepted.”
Bollampally has been volunteering with TUVAC since her first year at Trinity and is excited to see other students get involved like she has. She admires how devoted new volunteers have been at their events.
“One thing I really appreciated is that I never saw anyone on their phone at volunteering events,” Bollampally said. “People were always making sure that they were truly involved and communicating as much as they could.”
TUVAC coordinators and volunteers have found abundant volunteering opportunities in the city of San Antonio and hope to make more members of the Trinity community aware of the quantity of chances to help out their city.
“I hope that TUVAC can be more involved with bringing awareness to Trinity students about San Antonio’s central and relevant social, economic and environmental issues,” said Elizabeth Sanchez, a junior accounting major and recruitment coordinator for the organization.
Anyone with a desire to help others and serve in the San Antonio community is encouraged to join TUVAC. The organization always welcomes new members and hopes to increase their following even more this year. For a calendar of upcoming service opportunities organized by TUVAC, be sure to check out their Facebook page.