During the Spring 2021 semester, TCNJ Bonner Volunteers continued to support and volunteer with the Bonner Scholars Program even though the Covid-19 virus was still having a major impact on their daily lives. Even though as expected, the number of students who signed up to volunteer with our organization declined, one could still see the impact the limited number of volunteers had on the local community. We are proud to announce that during the semester, 14 Bonner Volunteers completed a total of 61.5 hour of service.
To protect our students and community members during these unprecedented times, volunteering opportunities were limited to a select number of community partners, in particular Meals on Wheels and El Centro. These opportunities were offered to Bonner Volunteers in a face-to-face and virtual setting and volunteers were encouraged to choose the option that they were most comfortable with.
Bonner Volunteers who served at Meal on Wheels worked with Bonner Scholars in delivering meals to people who were experiencing food insecurity issues. Utilizing CCE Vans, several times a week meals would be picked up at local food banks and other organizations and delivered to homes of individuals. Not only did this volunteer service provide a much needed meal, it allowed volunteers to make an emotional connection with clients, who might otherwise never see or talk to another face, especially during the pandemic.
El Centro is a trusted resource in the Spanish-speaking community for those seeking help with basic needs, job training, ESL, parenting classes and immigration services. During the spring 2021 semester, Bonner Volunteers served with this organization in a variety of ways in a virtual setting. Several volunteers interested in curriculum development assisted an ESL instructor in developing a lesson plan, others helped clients prepare for the citizenship exam by reviewing the practice questions and another volunteer viewed the movie “Sin Nombre” and engaged in discussion afterwards. Even though the service was conducted virtually and lacked the interaction face-to-face would have provided, volunteers strived to make the experience as meaningful as possible for all individuals involved.
We are honored and privileged to offer the Bonner Volunteer program to TCNJ students and are looking forward to more great outcomes during the fall 2021 semester. It is through the diligence and passion of these volunteers that the program remains a success even though circumstances and policies are ever changing.