Virtual Project Fair offers students volunteer opportunities in housing insecurity, community2 min read

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Freepiks

Students receive volunteer opportunities at VIDA’s virtual project fair.

Cassandra Garcia, Reporter

Despite being restricted to Zoom, the VIDA project fair allowed students to find volunteer opportunities and saw a surprising virtual turnout on Oct. 1.

While the fair was held in person for the school prior to COVID-19, it has been streamed and recorded for the past two quarters. Covering local organizations and what they looked for in volunteers, the fair discussed issues close to home for many individuals during these current times.

Housing insecurities were a common thread in the discussion from participants such as De Anza College’s Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action “Renters’ Rights” organization and J.R. Fruen, a candidate running for Cupertino’s city council.

“The pandemic has made it painfully apparent that housing insecurity is becoming a reality for more and more people as the Bay Area becomes more and more expensive,” Zoe Vulpe, member of VIDA’s Renter’s Rights organization, said. “COVID has opened the eyes of many Americans, and I think it has made our job more urgent than ever.”

Another group educating on the reality of housing insecurity was 1500 Stories, an organization dedicated to allowing people of different income levels to be interviewed about their experiences related to their economic status. Looking for volunteers to transcribe interviews with people living different economic classes, Jennifer Myhre, organizer for 1500stories.org, said it would be “a good option for those who love stories.”

While 1500Stories is currently looking to publish interviews from out of state, another organization, Amigos de Guadalupe, wanted to stay close to home. Providing opportunities from data entry to creating art for their programs, Amigos wants volunteers who live in East San Jose to work in their community.

Other organizations were dedicated to the overall improvement of the student and staff experience in the Foothill-De Anza district. The FA Pac centered on affordable housing, as well as educating faculty on propositions 15 and 16 regarding equal opportunity in employment as well as public school funding. 

Another group, Fund FHDA, seeks to give students a voice in exactly where public school funds would be transferring. 

VIDA Director Cynthia Kaufman spoke on the good turnout, as well as why volunteering, especially in political matters, is so necessary right now.

“It is important students be involved right now because democracy is at a crossroads, people are being incited to violence,” Kaufman said. “It is up to all of us to prevent that.”

VIDA also aims to give students an opportunity to create change in their communities.

“The first step is empathy, the next step is agency,” says Kaufman.

VIDA continues to provide a Leadership Certificate in Social Change, where students can take classes centered around everything from race and identity, to democracy in leadership. 

 

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