Make Your Mark at UCSB Before You Leave


Victoria Penate

As we begin the final quarter of the school year, it may feel like there is no time left to find opportunities for community service. However, whether you are a senior who wants to make a difference in the community before you leave or a freshman with three more years to go, there are still plenty of ways to get involved.

Isla Vista and the UCSB campus present ample opportunities to contribute to a cause you care about, whether it’s counteracting pollution, helping with food distribution, or working with children.

If environmental concerns motivate you to get out there and make a difference, you may want to volunteer for the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District’s Adopt-a-Block program. Besides removing litter in the neighborhood, the program also does outreach work in order to educate the community about how street waste is a social and environmental issue. Some of the Adopt-a-Block program’s successes have included reducing drain obstructions on Isla Vista’s streets and preventing the contamination of local wildlife habitats.

As for helping the local community through food distribution, childcare, or after-school teaching assistance, you should contact Isla Vista Youth Projects. Food distribution occurs on the first Thursday of every month in the multi-purpose room of Isla Vista Elementary and offers several available volunteer shifts. Children’s programs are held in different locations based on grade level, and volunteers have the chance to work under the supervision of a certified teacher. Volunteers for all positions are asked to download an application through the IVYP website.

Meanwhile, a bit further away from I.V., there are also some great opportunities in the city of Santa Barbara for anyone who is particularly interested in volunteering time for the preservation of local history and the enrichment of community education.

The Santa Barbara Historical Museum offers community members the opportunity to become a docent; this is a volunteer position involving general museum service and educational duties. According to the Santa Barbara Historical Museum website, docents choose to volunteer in a variety of categories or specialize in a particular area of local history. They will receive ongoing training and will have the opportunity to lead gallery tours or give outreach presentations depending on their particular areas of interest.

Another opportunity geared towards providing educational services is volunteering for the Santa Barbara Library. It has a public library system which currently consists of seven different branches, including one in Goleta and another in downtown Santa Barbara. A volunteer at the public library may put their skills to use as an adult literacy tutor, homework helper, or even a computer coach for patrons who need technological assistance. Applications to become a library volunteer are on the library website or can be picked up at any branch location.

For people who seek a more permanent solution to feeling out-of-the-loop about how to make a positive difference in the local community, UCSB’s Associated Students has a variety of on-campus organizations. The Community Affairs Board is dedicated to community service and holds weekly meetings that feature information about local projects and opportunities.

Other organizations allow you to help your fellow Gauchos: the Student Initiated Recruitment and Retention Committee provides opportunities to assist with student retention, and the AS Food Bank could always use more volunteers. If you sign up for any of these organizations’ email lists, they will provide you with a weekly newsletter with more ways to get involved. This is only a small selection of the organizations that you can find on the Associated Students website.

Finding and choosing a way to serve the community during your college career may seem difficult at first, but it is important to remember that the opportunities do exist. Donating your time is a valuable contribution, no matter which path you choose.