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Getting Started as a Volunteer

Things to Know About the Latreia Database
Choosing a Service Location
Before Your Experience
Questions to Ask Yourself During Your Experience
Ending Your Volunteer Experience
Safety and Security on Location

Things to Know About the Latreia Database

Listing of volunteer service opportunities listed on the Latreia database does not imply SPU's endorsement of the project or the organizing group. Volunteers who engage in the opportunities found in the Latreia database do so at their own risk and discretion.

Volunteers should consider the suggestions below to develop their volunteer experience, and they should be careful to consider risk factors associated with the volunteer position, including:

  • Travel to and from the service location
  • Use of power and hand tools
  • Higher scrutiny and care with vulnerable populations
  • Roles and responsibilities, etc.
Community organizations are asked to submit only volunteer projects that meet SPU's Volunteer Service and Resource Promotion Guidelines. (LINK Student volunteers should keep these guidelines in mind as they participate in any volunteer project. SPU's screening of these projects is only intended to determine whether or not the project meets the guidelines. It is the responsibility of the student to determine any risks or exposures that he or she is able or unable to tolerate.

Student volunteers who have questions about service opportunities, learning outcomes, or other options are encouraged to contact Owen Sallee (, John Perkins Center coordinator for global and urban involvement.

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Choosing a Service Location

Want to serve the community? First consider the type of program you'd like to experience. Consider these factors:

  • Distance from campus
  • Timeframe
  • Level of commitment required
Factors such as cultural diversity, location, and resources available to volunteers should also play a factor in your decision.

Once you know where you want to serve, complete the needed paperwork and contact the site's volunteer coordinator. Identify yourself as a SPU student and explain your program requirements.

Get started right away! The more time you have to spend at your location, the better the chances you'll come away with valuable learning experiences!

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Before Your Experience

Work with the program director to determine your volunteer schedule. Stick to your schedule conscientiously. This commitment demonstrates your professionalism and builds rapport with program leaders.

Define goals for yourself and those you'll serve. What does everyone hope to gain from the interaction?

Define expectations. What does your program coordinator expect regarding dress and timeliness? How should you handle challenging situations? What should you do if you can't make it in on your scheduled day?

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Questions to Ask Yourself During Your Experience:

  • How does this program's approach compare to my own experiences?
  • What preconceived notions do I have about these people, this place, or this program's approach?
  • What knowledge or experience do I hope to gain from this experience?
  • Am I comfortable in this setting? What steps do I need to take in order to adjust?
  • What impact do culture, ethnicity, economic status or social class have on this situation?
  • How might I apply these lessons to other settings?

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Closing your volunteer experience:

Because your volunteer role is an important one, it's vital that you handle the conclusion of your time wisely.

Be clear about your timeframe. Do you plan to stay for only your required length of time? Or will you continue to volunteer after your coursework is completed?

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Safety and Security on Location

Here are a few ways to keep your service safe, as well as enjoyable:

  • Use common sense.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Do not be left alone (i.e., one-on-one) with any of the organization's clients —whether a child, elderly person, or adult.
  • Ask for an escort during dark hours, especially when walking to your vehicle.
  • Know the mandatory reporting procedures and policies when dealing with vulnerable populations such as minors, elderly, and mentally or physically handicapped persons.
  • Obtain training for any tools you will use. Do not assume that you know the operation of a specific tool because you have used the same type before.
If you witness an intentional violation of policies or procedures, speak to your program director on site, and record for your personal records what was witnessed and when you reported the incident.

If the problem persists and/or the offender is the program director, contact Owen Sallee ( or your SPU facilitator to determine the following:
  • How and to whom to report the issue(s)
  • Steps to protect yourself
  • Determining if ending the experience is necessary
Ask questions if you don't understand or know how to do something.

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