Elon Volunteers! shows heart for service even during pandemic

The student-led service organization has successfully filled dozens of leadership positions despite being forced to transition to a virtual hiring process in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a time where people and institutions around the world have been forced to adapt to unexpected change, one thing that has not wavered is Elon’s passion and commitment to service.

That passion is shown in the student leaders of Elon Volunteers!, the university’s organization aimed at connecting members of the Elon campus and surrounding communities through service projects and a variety of programming. The organization, which is housed in the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, is student-led and student-run with more than 100 student leaders coordinating a variety of programs and opportunities.

EV! was in the middle of the hiring process for its 2020-21 leadership positions when Elon was forced to transition to online learning in March because of COVID-19. The transition meant there would be no opportunities to connect face-to-face with candidates for leadership roles and all of EV!’s spring programming would be canceled.

“We didn’t really know what to expect once the virus hit and what impact it would have on our programs,” said Kyle Anderson, assistant director of student community engagement programs, who says spring events play an important role in attracting students to EV! leadership positions.

Elon Volunteers! student leaders showcase the organization at Fall Open House.

Fortunately, the organization’s current student leaders immediately took action. The leaderships team shifted to an entirely virtual hiring process, connecting with applicants via email and WebEx interviews. The group’s hard work netted more than 75 of its roughly 100 open positions in a matter of weeks. Today, only a handful of openings remain.

“It’s been exciting to see that energy still there and we can go into the fall – with whatever fall looks like – and still have a lot of committed student leaders ready to make an impact in the community,” Anderson said.

Seniors like Ellie Snyder felt they owed it to the organization to push forward, despite the uncertainty surrounding their final year at Elon.

“Being a senior right now, it would be really easy to check out, but I think all of our student leaders who are moving on were very passionate about finding people to fill their roles,” said Snyder, who serves as the organization’s executive director for outreach and collaboration and co-coordinator of Elon’s civic engagement organization Elon Votes! “They’ve really valued their positions. And so I think it has really shown that they really care about the community and the work they’ve been doing.”

Elon Volunteers! offers students a variety of leadership opportunities on campus. Three executive directors oversee operations and offer peer mentorship to other student leaders. A group of directors lead the operation of EV!’s “clusters,” which focus on areas of civic engagement, community wellness, disability rights, education and youth development, housing and food security, public health and Alternative Breaks. A group of coordinators plans and hosts the programs and events that connect students with a variety of community partners to address some of the area’s greatest needs.

Ellie Snyder ’20

Snyder, who has served in several roles since joining EV! as a sophomore, says her time with the organization has provided her with lifelong friends and memories. It has also opened her eyes to new career opportunities in civic engagement or recruiting. As she helps the next class of student leaders transition into their new roles, she says she looks forward to seeing the organization grow for years to come.

“I think it’s really cool that the programs and ideas we started here are going to continue even after we leave, and the next generation of student leaders will continue what we started,” Snyder said. “I’m very honored to be one part of the history Elon Volunteers!”

Elon Volunteers! is still looking to fill a limited number of leadership positions. Find more information about Elon Volunteers! and its leadership application process here.