CPS attracts interest of freshmen
By Neil J. Ross
Almost 400 freshmen have expressed interest in the newly-formed Center for Public Service at MIT, according to Public Service Coordinator Virginia Sorenson. The center was formed last November in order to match up students interested in volunteer work with the local volunteer agencies in need of their labor.
Eight-two freshmen signed on with the center at the last week's Activities Midway and about 300 freshmen expressed an interest in the center through the freshman summer mailing package.
``I think of myself as providing support for students' efforts," Sorenson said. Over the past year, she has accumulated a list of approximately 100 non-profit service organizations in the Cambridge area which have openings for volunteers. Through the center, Sorenson attempts to connect students with special interests to the groups which share those same interests.
For many of these organizations, Sorenson has become their "main contact at MIT," according to Antonia Burke of the Cambridge School Voluteers.
To better assess student interest in volunteer work, the center took a survey of MIT undergraduates last May. The results of that survey gave the Center four special areas of focus: underprivileged youth, hunger and homelessness, health and medical issues, and education.
Linking together the other service agencies on campus, the center's operational committee includes representatives from Alpha Phi Omega, Technology Community Association and Tau Beta Pi. However, the resources offered by the center are not for organizations alone. One of the center's jobs last year was to find funding for interns in public service so that the remuneration could compare with that offered by large companies.
The Center for Public Service at MIT is helping MIT both to retain old friends in the community and to win new ones. For example, Cambridge School Volunteers, a Cambridge-based education project, has been in existence for 23 years and throughout its existence has always had strong ties with MIT. For Cambridge School Volunteers, the center has given them additional publicity and exposure among the student community, Burke said. Sorenson's inside knowledge of MIT has enabled them to reach a much wider student audience, and as a result they have seen no less than a 200 percent increase in volunteer numbers from MIT for their high school tutoring program, according to Burke.
Another organization which has been helped by the center is the Salvation Army, which reported that, simply as a re-
sult of the Public Service Midway run by the center last Spring, they recruited 25 new student volunteers.
Yet another success story for the center is Tutoring Plus, a 25-year-old community agency which, like Cambridge School Volunteers, has always had strong ties with MIT. Last year a total of 233 MIT student volunteers helped them, mainly on large projects.
Looking to the future, the center plans a Public Service Day on Oct. 14, which will provide another opportunity for interested students to be matched up with a volunteer organization.