Community service

Community service in Duke fueled by passions

Ask a Duke volunteer why they are involved in community service, and you’ll often hear one word: passion.

Duke’s 44th Annual Volunteer Fair, hosted by Duke Civic Engagement in conjunction with the Triangle Nonprofit and Volunteer Leadership Center, was held in September. He inspired 175 students, staff and faculty in attendance to find ways to serve in the community and to find the joy and meaning of volunteering.

“There are so many committed people at Duke who care about the community and their passions,” said Linda Lytvinenko, who recently retired from the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy. “There is probably a non-profit organization at the Volunteer Fair or the Doing Good Campaign that she could align with.”

The event included presentations by over 40 community partners from Durham and the region. Now working as an interim for the Duke’s Sanford Board Leadership Initiative (SBLI), Lytvinenko attended the fair to seek out non-profit organizations potentially interested in placing Masters of Public Policy students in local volunteer positions at non-profit for a period of one year.

“I left with a new appreciation for the number and breadth of nonprofits represented and the number of internal Duke initiatives available,” said Lytvinenko.

There are at least 10 nonprofits that she believes will be suitable for SBLI student internships.

Freshman Velda Wang was happy to organize several non-profit sessions in between her busy schedule. It was the virtual format that made it more convenient to listen to multiple organizations. She intends to contact the Wake County Urban Ministries and has also found an interest in the Duke Supporting Women’s Action group.

“I knew when I entered college that I wanted to do service,” Wang said. “But I wasn’t sure what organizations there were. I knew there were a lot of opportunities which was overwhelming and the volunteer fair was the perfect way to see many organizations and see what matched my interests.

Duke senior Adam Nawrocki came to Duke already experienced in home community service. He attended the volunteer fair to explore local food banks, providing community closets and gardens that he could get involved with.

“I would say follow your passion and your interests,” Nawrocki said.

He plans to volunteer with Open Table Ministry’s “Free Store” program, which provides groceries to those struggling in the community.

For nonprofits like the American Red Cross in the Eastern North Carolina region, the Duke Volunteer Lounge is essential to supporting their operations. The Red Cross has a large blood donation site near the Duke campus and relies heavily on Duke volunteers to become blood donor ambassadors, where they welcome and register donors and canteen staff. .

“94% of the staff (of the Red Cross) are volunteers,” said Lesley Ireland, senior recruiting specialist. “We help with local disasters, house fires, blood donations and more. We need a lot of more volunteers.

For those who were unable to attend the virtual Duke Volunteer Fair, recordings of the 40 volunteer organizing sessions are now available on the Durham and Community Affairs YouTube site. Each video is approximately 5 minutes long.

Year round, Duke Civic Engagement operates a volunteer platform, ConnectCommunity, which helps match nonprofit volunteer opportunities with the interests of the Duke community on

“The partnership between local nonprofits and members of the Duke community in terms of service and volunteerism has great potential,” said Sandra Martinez-Zuniga, Senior Coordinator of the Duke Civic Engagement Program.

To learn more about service opportunities with local organizations, as well as training and resources to engage in targeted, equitable and sustainable partnerships, visit