New partnership provides volunteer opportunities to students

August 24, 2009

Penn State students from all majors have a new way to volunteer, thanks to a partnership developed between the Human Development and Family Studies Undergraduate Student Organization (HDFS USO) and the Centre County Youth Service Bureau (YSB). The partnership will provide volunteer opportunities that can positively impact the lives of children from Centre County.

“We want this to be a direct conduit for students seeking volunteer opportunities,” said Sarah Kollat, instructor in human development and family studies. Kollat is a faculty adviser to the HDFS USO with Lisa Gatzke-Kopp, assistant professor of human development and family studies. Through the partnership, the HDFS USO plans on coordinating at least five volunteer events and three donation drives during the next academic year. Kollat and Gatzke-Kopp encourage all students to volunteer if they are interested in working with children.

Students who volunteer will be able to participate in a number of service projects that impact children directly through hands-on educational activities with children or indirectly through food drives and other charity events.

“We rely heavily on volunteers to help us and serve kids with us,” said Ali Turley, prevention programs coordinator for the YSB. “Involving people in the community who care about what our organization does, and people who want to meet with the children we work with, is a great experience for the children. It’s a give-give relationship and a win-win relationship for everyone involved.”

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies has a long history of working with the Centre County Youth Service Bureau. An established internship program provides HDFS students a local organization they can intern with, and the department has had representatives from the YSB serve on HDFS career panel discussions. In addition, the HDFS USO has worked with the YSB for several years, assisting with food drives and stocking stuffer drives.

“It’s a great opportunity to get some practical experience working with children, helping to design and put to use learning activities, and helping an organization that we’ve worked with extensively in the past,” said HDFS senior Bethany Polash, vice president of the HDFS USO and one of the initiators of the partnership. “For HDFS students, too, this will provide some practical volunteering experiences; the Youth Service Bureau uses many prevention programs and this is directly related to what we learn in HDFS 311 [Human Development and Family Studies Interventions].”

The mission of the Youth Service Bureau is to ensure that “children, youth, and families will have opportunities to realize and fulfill their potential for growth and development through their participation in a continuum of community-based, family-based and residential programs.”

For more information, contact Sarah Kollat at or Lisa Gatzke-Kopp at

Last Updated September 01, 2009