This month, Multnomah University hosted more than a dozen local nonprofits on campus for the first annual LINK Expo. The LINK’s service learning program is designed to connect MU students to businesses, nonprofits and ministry organizations who need volunteers and interns. Students are required to fulfill a set amount of LINK hours each year as part of their overall education, and MU intentionally brings resources to campus so that students can decide where they’d like to serve.
Spiritual Life Intern Taylor Ellis organized the event and considers the LINK program one of the best ways MU prepares students to take meaningful steps in their faith journey and work. “The LINK program is an awesome way for students to not only serve their community, but to also make connections,” says Ellis. “The connections they are making have the potential to help them when they are looking for jobs in the future, but even if their placements do not turn into jobs, they are learning and expanding their networks!”
The LINK Expo brought 13 different community partners from all over the Portland Metro area to JCA student lounge, where students could connect with ministries such as Adorned in Grace, which helps fight the trafficking of women and girls through wedding and formalwear, and Store to Door, a low-cost grocery delivery service for homebound seniors and people with disabilities. These nonprofits along with the other 11 in organizations in attendance, have a huge desire for volunteers and are thankful to be partnering with a school that provides so many.
“We are low-cost, and that’s because of our volunteers,” says Antonia Rangel with Store to Door. “We have 600 clients, and our volunteers are the ones who make the calls and shop and deliver. So its volunteers who make our service affordable.”
Kaylah Alicea and her husband manage Environmental Control, which provides personal home cleaning services in Portland and Vancouver. “We were missionaries for many years, so now we use business as mission to reach people in their homes,” says Alicea. “Also, this is a great job for college students because it has flexible hours, and you get to connect with people.”
Kimberlee Olmsted works with The Family Room, which provides supervised visitation and hands-on family training to families separated in the foster care system. “We partner with churches for space and with volunteers for assistance,” she says. “Volunteers are the life-blood of the program; we couldn’t do this without them. We need people who can encourage others through the darkest valleys of their lives… holding hope for people when they can’t hold it for themselves.”
Dean of Spiritual Life Rich Ward was ecstatic to see the turnout and emphasized the type of close-knit relationships he envisions between Multnomah and its LINK partners. “We want people to know you.” he told the nonprofit leaders in attendance. “We want you on campus. We want to serve you.” Ellis left with a similar feeling of gratitude. “I was most excited for students to have the opportunity to learn about organizations, churches and nonprofits that they may not have heard of before,” she says. “There are so many really unique and specific organizations out there, and it is privilege to be able help student make those connections.”
See some photos from the event below.