A new class at Kodiak College this year focuses on community engagement.
Professor Thia Falcone says that’s anything from volunteering with local nonprofits to daily kindnesses, like helping someone across the street.
While those acts may seem small, she says they can have far-reaching effects.
“Nothing will happen in a community unless people do it. And it’s very dangerous if people aren’t civically engaged. You can end up with governments that are not people oriented.”
Besides the larger benefits, Falcone says volunteering is supposed to be individually rewarding.
“There is a body of evidence that shows that people who volunteer are happier. It does a little thing in your prefrontal left dorsal medial cortex that I can’t really explain because I’m not a neuroscientist, but there is a biological thing that happens in your brain when you do good works, and then it’s kind of addictive and you want to do more and you want to do more.”
Falcone’s student, Jeffery Woods, says volunteering has also helped him form friendships with people he wouldn’t have met otherwise.
“I know some of the folks some of that I know through the Wounded Warrior project and work with them annually. They’re good people, and we occasionally still go hunting and fishing together. It’s just a really great way to become a more connected member of your community.”
The Introduction to Civic Engagement class began in August and, for their final project, students are organizing a fair that will help match volunteers with local nonprofits. The fair is this Friday from 12 pm- 2 pm.
Editor’s Note 11/29: A prior version of this article misspelled Thia Falcone’s last name as Falcon.