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About the Volunteer Center

Our History

The Volunteer Center was established in 1992 after the Rodney King/LA Riots and was originally housed in the USC Career Center and at that time, comprised of 2 students and a telephone!  Together the students helped other students find volunteer positions, internships and the like.  In March 1991, Jerry Hauser and Sharon Slaven Miller, two Student Life staff members, coordinated the first Alternative Spring Break trip to Bluff, Utah; a trip where students worked on the Navajo Reservation painting houses and working in the Aneth Community School.

In 1995, following Michelle Blanchette’s appointment as a VISTA volunteer, the Volunteer Center moved from the Career Center to the Office of Campus Activities and eventually into Leadership Service and Scholars.  Over the next 8 years, the Volunteer Center evolved into a full-fledged campus department with numerous student staff coordinating 6 Alternative Spring Break trips, numerous sponsored service days, and a database of volunteer opportunities.

In 2003, the Volunteer Center welcomed its second director, Melissa Gaeke and saw the marked growth in its signature programs with Friends and Neighbors Day expanding to 5 events each year; and responding to international crises like the Indian Ocean tsunami with the first Alternative Winter Break to Thailand.  Until 2016, the Volunteer Center was home to the USC branch of the Jumpstart for Young Children, and with them a volunteer corps of 30 more staff. Over the last years, the staff continued to work to respond to the needs of students, staff, faculty and our community partners.

Today, under the supervision of its coordinator, Judith Sandoval, the spirit found in the first Volunteer Center remains the same with a very student-oriented culture.