The National Student Partnerships office may only have a few desks and filing cabinets, but with the help of local Temple students, the student-led volunteer organization is working to guide community members through tough times in their lives.
North Philadelphia resident Shireena Hardrick is one of the almost 200 locals that received assistance from last year’s staff of 15 Temple students.
“Every time I went there, they helped me no matter what I needed,” Hardrick said. “We rewrote my resume and cover letter. They also helped me get job leads and land an interview,”
NSP’s mission involves mobilizing students from colleges and universities to work with residents from low-income neighborhoods in accessing affordable housing, financial-support services, healthcare, childcare and job opportunities.
NSP volunteers serve clients who do not have access to employment opportunities and social services. Clients’ ages range between 18 and 65 and most have diverse ethnic, racial and gender backgrounds.
“We always put the client first by focusing on their specific needs,” said Ashley Gunn, one of the site coordinators for NSP’s North Philadelphia office.
“They usually come in knowing what they want and what specific areas they need to focus on. By working with them, we usually find out more about them and sometimes uncover other areas they need help with,” Gunn said.
Senior Sandra O’Conor began volunteering with NSP after she noticed the organization’s flier in her new student packet.
“It’s easy to complain about North Philadelphia, but now I don’t feel the need to complain about my community anymore. It gives me peace of mind to know I’m doing something to help out,” the sociology major said.
“It’s exciting when you get to see a client get excited over something as small as a free pair of glasses. It’s a big deal for them,” said Kristine Minutolo, a senior at James Madison University.
Minutolo volunteered with NSP in North Philadelphia during the summer.
Last year, the volunteers clocked in 3,212 hours of service. The organization also helped 181 community members, most of whom were new to the program.
“Clients can stay with the program as long as they need, although most of our clients come in for employment and housing help,” Gunn said.
The office collaborates with community partners like the Madeira Family Center, Temple’s Center for Social Policy and Community Development, the Salvation Army, Healthy Start, Solutions for Progress, the Benefit Bank and the Church of the Advocate.
NSP is currently looking for Temple students interested in volunteering at its office located at 1231 N. Broad St.
“We’re hoping to have a full staff by October. Last year, we had a great staff and we’re hoping some come back this year,” Gunn said.
“I volunteered only two hours a week during the fall semester last year, but that soon increased to eight hours per week in the spring,” said Dana Haynes, a senior psychology major.
“If you’re passionate about helping others reach their goals, I recommend NSP.”
Abigail Shepherd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.