Badin High School in Hamilton is hosting a Service Fair on Thursday, March 19 to allow students to be introduced and learn more about many of the nonprofits in Butler County. The Service Fair is part of a new program that was introduced last year, that continues to require students to have service hours in order to graduate.
The Service Fair will be held in the Pfirman Family Activity Center at the high school and it will run throughout the course of the school day. It will start at 7:30 a.m. and conclude around 1:45 p.m.
“Badin’s Service Program is an intentional, four-year program that introduces students to issues of social justice and what the nonprofit world is all about. Then, it encourages them to find their place in that world through service,” said Megan Halverson, the school’s service coordinator.
She said the junior-year theme of the service program is Relationships, where each junior is asked to choose a nonprofit to partner with and complete at least 20 hours of service with that agency. Students work to build relationships with the people they work with and the people they work for.
“Last year was our first year for this new program. The Service Fair was created as a way of introducing possible service partners to our students,” Halverson said.
The Service Fair is geared toward the current sophomore class (in-coming juniors) and for current juniors (in-coming seniors), who will complete a senior-year, Servant Leadership project. As part of the Servant Leadership project, students partner with an agency, choose a project that meets the need of the agency, and complete the project over the course of their senior year. Juniors are required to complete 20 hours of service work with one agency, and during the Service Fair, they have a chance to talk with some of the nonprofits to see which agency or agencies might be a good fit for them. As part of their service requirement, students take on a variety of roles serving with the various nonprofit partners.
Halverson said over 30 nonprofits have registered to participate in this year’s Service Fair. Participants from across Butler County have included the Boys & Girls Club of Hamilton, MetroParks of Butler County, The Caring Closet, Butler County Special Olympics, Great Miami Valley YMCA and Reach Out Lakota, among others. If any area nonprofit or organization would like to participate in the Service Fair, they can contact Megan Halverson, service coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“First of all, our intention is just general awareness, to gain a better, hands-on understanding that not everybody’s story looks like theirs, and to develop some real empathy and compassion for those who surround them with a different story,” Halverson said.
“And also, to figure out how to use their own gifts, what they are good at, and what they care about to contribute to our community and help improve relationships and circumstances for people in our community,” she continued.
Based on feedback from the Service Fair last year, Halverson said the agencies that had students choose them as partners definitely gained solid, reliable volunteers. Also, the day itself was a really great community-building day for the nonprofit community in Butler County. The nonprofits had an opportunity to have lunch together, and talk to those from other participating nonprofits.
“Some of our students’ favorite experiences of direct service have been working in direct mentoring relationships with agencies like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butler County, Boys & Girls Club of Hamilton and Hamilton Living Water Ministry, Inc. Also, many students have served at different animal shelters throughout Butler County, and have had a positive experience walking dogs and caring for kittens,” Halverson said
Additionally, some students have appreciated doing indirect service, or more behind-the-scene work at places like The Caring Closet, where they are doing laundry or sorting donations. With MetroParks of Butler County, they serve as Trail Ambassadors, cleaning the trails of debris and tree limbs, she said.
“When students commit to an agency, spend time there, and get to know the people they’re working with and the people they are working for, they are much more likely to return. Most of our students, especially at places like the Boys & Girls Club of Hamilton, or the Community Meal Center, where they’ve really developed relationships, have gone well beyond their 20 hours. It’s been amazing,” Halverson said.
As part of the Service Fair, each agency or nonprofit organization has a table set up, and students spend time during their designated class period to stop at each table and find out more about the organizations they are interested in.
The week before the Service Fair, students spend time preparing. They come up with questions they want to ask, or specifics they want to know about each organization. They also have a chance to explore more about the social justice issues they are interested in learning more about or working with.
Halverson said students have been interested in issues such as the rights of children, education, health and wellness, foster-family support, poverty, including clothing, hunger, and shelter, homelessness, inclusion, and advocacy for disabilities as well as support of veterans and the environment, care for the elderly and animal rights, among others.
Students have an opportunity to choose the agencies they would like to work with. However, some partners can only take on a handful of volunteers. Opportunities are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Then, students may be referred to another similar agency. Several of the nonprofits are able to accommodate more students and offer more service hours.
“I definitely feel great about the direction we’ve taken our service program at Badin. I feel like it’s giving students a much more solid foundation, and an awareness of issues of justice in our community, and with that foundation, they are much more likely to give their time to something they care about, and something that they choose,” Halverson said.
After the Service Fair, the next step for students would be to contact the agency or agencies they are interested in, and to follow up with their top agencies. Then, students can visit, or have a phone conversation with an agency to determine it’s a good fit for the student and the agency. Once students begin serving with a particular agency, they will track their service hours in an online service portal called InnerView. About 165 students, (who will be juniors next year) will be placed with area agencies.
Badin has previously required students to complete 15 hours of service to school, church or a nonprofit agency. The Class of 2020 is the last class to complete the 15-hour requirement.
There are also additional service opportunities offered at Badin. For example, 57 students from Badin will be going on service trips this summer, which has increased from 17 students a few years ago. This summer, as part of the Summer in Solidarity service trip program, students will have an opportunity to participate in four service trips, including trips to Solsberry Hill in Bloomington, Indiana: Nazareth Farm in Salem, West Virginia; Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and an international trip to the Dominican Republic with Project Manana.
In recent years, community service has become more of a focus at many Ohio schools. Kings High School in Warren County also requires students to complete community service hours.
Community Service is an important component of education at Kings High School. As a graduation requirement, students are required to perform at least 50 community service hours with a minimum of one-half of those hours earned from a non-profit not associated with Kings Local School District. Additionally, students are required to complete a reflection piece to be presented at Senior Reflection Night in order to graduate.
The mission of the Community Service Program at KHS states, “The Kings Service Program aims to build responsible and caring citizens, to strengthen the relationship between the Kings Local Schools and the community in which we educate young people, and to foster learning through service.”
“We believe that by giving students an opportunity to serve that they will find a purpose for a lifetime of serving others through their talents and interests,” said, Dawn Gould, community relations coordinator at Kings Local School District.
She said the senior class participates in a 9/11 day of giving where the students are out in the community giving back to several agencies in the area.