In 1992 the Volunteer Center was established and was originally housed in the USC Career Center. At that time, it comprised of two students and a telephone. Together, the students helped other students find volunteer positions, internships and the like. Around the same time, Jerry Hauser and Sharon Slaven Miller, two Student Affairs staff members, started the first Alternative Spring Break trip to Bluff, Utah – a trip where students worked on the Navajo Reservation painting housing 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 six Alternative Spring Break trips, numerous sponsored service days, and a database of volunteer opportunities.
In 2003, 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 responded to international crises like the Indian Ocean tsunami with the first Alternative Winter Break to Thailand. Over the next 7 1/2 years, the staff continued to work to respond to the needs of students, staff, faculty and our community partners.
Today the Volunteer Center, headed by its Program Coordinator Judith Sandoval, is a part of the Campus Activities team. It continues to provide international and domestic Alternative Break programs and service opportunities through the Friends & Neighbors Day program and its online newsletter.