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Reaching Beyond Yourself

Volunteering and community service can be one of the most fulfilling opportunities you'll find at Clarkson. By reaching out and offering your energy, talent and compassion, you can make a real difference in people's lives. Through service to others, you will gain a better understanding of yourself, demonstrate classroom learning, and increase leadership, teambuilding and management skills. That's why service is a core value of Clarkson; it benefits both the students and the community. Service helps develop a sense of social responsibility and civic pride. 

Below is a list of volunteer opportunities in the area. This isn't an inclusive list, but we would like it to be. If you know of something else going on around campus that invites others to join, please let us know. To collaborate on a project or to suggest an idea to share around campus, please stop by the Office of Student Life and Engagement or email

Individual and Group Volunteering Opportunities (I=Individual, G=Groups welcome)

Adopt-A-Bear Cub Mentoring Program, Lawrence Avenue Elementary School:
College students will be matched one-on-one with an elementary age student (grades K through 4) to provide academic, emotional, and social support and activities.  Mentors are asked to commit to two days a week, typically Monday and Wednesday OR Tuesday and Thursday from 3:15-4:15 p.m.  Please contact Nicole Conant, Assistant Director, SUNY Potsdam Center for School Partnerships and Teacher Certification, Adopt-A-Bear Cub Mentoring Program, SUNY Potsdam, 111 Satterlee Hall, 315-267-2539, OR Susan A. Pike, Elementary School Counselor, 315-265-2000, ext 259 or

American Red Cross of Northern New York: Your Red Cross is always ready to respond by providing shelter, food, health support or financial assistance to individuals in times of disaster. Volunteer areas are: disaster volunteer, Health & Safety Instructor, leadership volunteer, fund-raising events volunteer and office support. (I, G) Contact Jean Gendron at (315)-782-4410

A.A. Kingston Middle School: AAK is Potsdam’s middle school, housing students in grades 5-8.  Volunteers are needed to facilitate individual and small group tutoring sessions as well as mentoring relationships.  Times are flexible and can be arranged around the schedule of the volunteer.  Contact Kristen Zender, Middle School Guidance Counselor, at (315)265-2000 extension 521 or

Canton-Potsdam Hospital: A volunteer is part of a team working towards achieving the hospital’s mission of providing “expert care with a personal touch.” Volunteers must meet physical requirements. Available positions include: delivering newspapers, gift and library carts, lobby greeters, information systems, and patient-care service areas. (I,G) Contact Danielle Grant at (315) 261-5010 or

The Cecilie Garden Project is a community garden dedicated to providing fresh, healthy food for food pantries, neighborhood centers, and community dinners of Northern St. Lawrence County.  This large garden located at Lehman Park in Potsdam is one of two gardens maintained by UShare, a social action project of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Canton. UShare’s second garden is at the Priest Field in Canton. UShare’s  mission is to “support and promote efforts to grow, distribute, and enjoy wholesome, locally grown food in the North Country.”  The Cecilie Garden Project always welcomes new volunteers, we start working in the garden in April and work continues until late fall – if you are interested in participating, please contact Sally Hoose at

CORC Thrift Store: The Council of Religious Concern operates a ministry store with the goal of locally and cooperatively meeting immediate practical needs for those requiring assistance within our community. Volunteers are needed to sort donations and to keep the store operating smoothly. (I, G) Contact Andrea James for more information at (315) 265-3940. CORC is closed Sundays and Mondays.

DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Transportation Network: Many veterans have no way to get to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities for needed treatment. They may live a great distance from a VA hospital, and because so many exist on small fixed incomes, they find that the cost of transportation to a VA hospital is just too high. They're left with two choices. They could go without the treatment they need, or skimp on food or other necessities to pay for transportation. The DAV responds by maintaining two vans locally which are used to transport disabled veterans who reside in the area to medical appointments at veterans clinics in Massena, Watertown, or Syracuse. The Potsdam DAV is always in need of drivers. Contact the Potsdam DAV Van Coordinator, Fred, for more information or to volunteer, at (315) 706-9371.

Deep Root Center for Self-Directed Learning (DRC): DRC is seeking volunteers during the academic year to share their interests and talents with DRC student members through one-on-one tutorials or by facilitating classes.  DRC is particularly looking for Clarkson students who can offer direct higher level math and science support and classes. Deep Root Center is a NYS Not-for-Profit and 501(c)3 learning center located in downtown Canton.  Deep Root Center provides the facilities, environment, resources, and support for young people who choose to live and learn without school. Learn more about DRC at our website  You can contact Maria or André at or 315-244-3034.

Girl Scouts:  Volunteers are needed for both co-leading troops and as "traveling talents"  who would meet with one or more troops to do a specific activity the volunteer is interested which can be anything from knitting to robotics.  Anyone can volunteer, you do not need prior training or scouting involvement. There are several troops in the town of Potsdam as well as many in the surrounding areas. For more information prospective volunteers can contact Marcia Oney (322-4233) or Marilyn Paradis (265-6979)(I, G)

Head Start: Head Start helps economically disadvantaged children (ages 3-5) and their families. They also assist large families, rural families, and children with disabilities. Volunteer opportunities include:  reading to children, supervising outdoor activities, field trips, repairing toys, and preparing food. Contact Karen Holland at (315) 386-8574. 

Hospice and Palliative Care: Hospice enables people to live their last few weeks and months as fully as possible. The kinds of activities a volunteer might do include: visiting with patients, light housekeeping, running errands, or letter writing. Other volunteer opportunities include things like: clerical tasks, helping with computer projects or delivering medications. Volunteer training provided. Contact Jennifer Brailsford at (315) 265-3105.

First Presbyterian Church: The Presbyterian Church sponsors two free community dinners a month. Help is needed with set-up, cooking and serving food, and cleanup. In the fall, volunteers are also asked to assist with raking leaves. (315) 265-9434. 

Lawrence Avenue Elementary: Lawrence Avenue is Potsdam’s elementary school, housing grades Kindergarten – 4th grade. Volunteers are needed to facilitate individual and small group tutoring sessions. Contact Principal Jenne at (315) 265-2000. 

Literacy of Northern New York: This program’s mission is to help adults achieve personal goals by improving their ability to read, write or speak English through one-on-one tutoring. Volunteers are needed as tutors in basic reading and in English as a Second Language (ESL). Training is provided. Flexible schedules. Contact Maria Morrison at (315) 265-0194.

The Local Living Venture envisions a vibrant community and resilient regional economy in the North Country of New York State. Our toolbox: community education, rural skills-building, and dynamic infrastructure development to promote a regional economy. Plans include a "Homesteading College" with components of a food hub and commercial kitchen for value-added food production, as well as significant tourist and local features and benefits. Many projects, from helping with roadside clean-ups to grant-writing and strategic planning/implementation, as well as year-round skills-building workshops and community events, outreach booths at fairs and festivals, and specialized programming.  Check out our chock-full website at and contact Volunteer Organizer Chelle Lindahl at or (315) 347-4223.

Newman Club at St. Mary's: The Newman Club is a social and service organization for Catholic students based out of St. Mary’s Church. Any student is welcome to participate in our volunteer work regardless of religious affiliation. Volunteer opportunities are presented one weekend afternoon per month from 1pm-4pm. Some of the services we provide are: visiting with nursing home residents, yard work for the elderly, collecting canned food and toiletries for food pantries and shelters, creating care packages for home-bound individuals (and military troops when applicable), and spring break service trips to other parts of the country. Contact: Campus Minister, Patrick Reinhart, (315) 265-9680. Email: Website: Facebook:

Planned Parenthood: Planned Parenthood of the North Country New York is always looking for volunteers. Types of volunteer opportunities include serving as patient escorts, assisting in mailings, data entry, tabling at health fairs, and event assistance. Contact Melinda Paige at (315) 386-3426 or email: advocacy.napp@ppfa.org

Potsdam Humane Society: The compassionate, humane care you help provide also makes our community better, as the kindness we extend to animals reflects back into our own lives. The shelter is open Mon. – Fri., 1 – 5 p.m. and Sat., Noon – 4 p.m. Volunteers are needed to visit and walk pets, conduct fund raising and assist with cleaning and building maintenance. (I, G) Contact Jess at (315) 265-3199.>

Potsdam Neighborhood Center: The mission of the Neighborhood Center is to help the poor and at-risk population in our area, to help them maintain a decent standard of living, and to help them set goals and priorities for an improved living standard. Volunteers are needed to help distribute food and assist participants with creating résumés. Contact Daisy Cox at (315) 265-3920.

Potsdam Public Library: Volunteers are needed to help organize book sales, alphabetize books, mend books, and help distribute books to those who don’t have access to the library. Contact Pat Musante at (315) 265-7230.

Potsdam Rescue Sqaud  (I) Potsdam Volunteer Squad is tasked with the responsibility of responding to a call volume that annually averages 1,300+ responses. PVRS is always interested in talking to members of the community who may wish to volunteer. Please go to for more information or call (315) 265-2550.

Reachout: (Crisis Intervention & Referral 24-hour Hotline) Volunteers receive over 100 hours of training in crisis intervention, listening skills, problem-solving, & information referral before answering the phone alone. An application is required as well as a two semester commitment. A five hour weekly shift is required. Contact Hollis Easter at (315) 265-2422.

Renewal House: Provides services for victims of domestic violence and their children. Availability is after-hours and on an on-call basis. Opportunities include advocating for clients and providing transportation. Six hours of training provided. Application and interview required. (I, G) Contact Sara Tooly at (315) 379-9845.

St. Lawrence County Arts Council: The St. Lawrence County Arts Council is dedicated to developing and promoting the arts in northern New York. Opportunities include helping with mailings, events, fundraising, graphic design, data entry, cleaning and publicity/marketing. Contact Rebekah or Suzy at (315) 265-6860.

St. Lawrence NYSARC: St. Lawrence NYSARC exists to provide services in the community for persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Opportunities may include special one-time presentations, tutoring, recreational activities, classroom assistance, and sharing special talents. Enthusiasm, energy, and enjoying people are the only requirements. Contact Susan Gibbons at (315) 386-3529.

Volunteer Fair
Students learn about volunteer opportunities with Clarkson University's EMS Club at the Volunteer Fair on Monday, August 25th, 2014.