Allied Churches names Elon senior 'Volunteer of the Year'
Eric Zelenkofske '12 started working with the Burlington, N.C., homeless shelter after a philosophy course on ethics and decision-making.
By Natalie Allison '13
Elon University senior Eric Zelenkofske was awarded this week the Volunteer of the Year award from the Allied Churches of Alamance County homeless shelter after nearly three years of service to the organization.
Zelenkofske began serving as one of the Elon University LINCS, a leader in collaborative service, for Allied Churches during his sophomore year. The student leadership program, developed by the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, consists of seven student leaders from Elon who each coordinate volunteers for local nonprofit organizations.
“This is the first time Allied Churches has given the award to a LINCS volunteer, and we’ve had a LINCS program there for six years” said Tammy Cobb, the Kernodle Center’s assistant director for community partnerships. “The award was for outstanding volunteerism and commitment to the organization, and we’re very proud it was to an Elon student.”
Zelenkofske coordinate student volunteers at Allied Churches and recruits extra help from Elon students for various needs. In addition, he said he volunteers some of his own time there, doing anything from preparing food in the kitchen to helping out in other ways.
“Literally, this is a student who, if he sees dishes that need to be washed will wash the dishes,” Cobb said. “Or, if he sees they need volunteers or support for an event, goes out and recruits volunteers for that. He’s been involved on many levels.”
Zelenkofske got his start volunteering with the organization while taking Professor Anthony Weston’s philosophy class “Ethics & Decision Making: Visions, Values and Virtues for Leadership.”
While in the class, Zelenkofske helped build 13 bunk beds to replace old ones, a need his class identified was present at Allied Churches. After completing Weston’s class, Zelenkofske decided to keep volunteering at the shelter.
“I’d like to be able to say I’ve brought in a few more people and hopefully helped strengthen the relationship between the organization and Elon,” he said. “The Campus Kitchen program started while I was the LINCS there, so that really helped, too.”
Zelenkofske said he frequently sees Campus Kitchen volunteers helping out in the kitchen at Allied Churches, something he believes helps secure the future of the university’s relationship with Allied Churches.
A finance major, Zelenkofske will be working as a financial analyst in Houston upon graduating in May.
“It was the class project that really inspired me to do it,” he said. “I didn’t have any real intent to do volunteer work, but the class got me hooked. It’s funny how things work out.”