Affiliated with St. Mary’s University, the all-volunteer-run San Antonio office of National Student Partnerships (NSP) was formed in January, 2001, to meet the needs of disadvantaged residents of the community seeking sustainable employment, or services related to obtaining or maintaining employment, such as childcare, housing, healthcare, etc. NSP-San Antonio, which has no eligibility requirements, uniquely serves the community by operating as a “hub” in a community’s network of services, providing clients with research, and with referrals to the services most appropriate for their particular situations. Clients assume responsibility for following through on the research offered by NSP and making the contact with the service provider.
The student volunteers of NSP-San Antonio build their connections to the community by meeting one-on-one with community leaders to discuss opportunities for collaboration, by assuming leadership roles in community events like job fairs or “Make A Difference Day,” and by working with community service colleagues to identify the ways each organization can uniquely contribute to enhancing the service opportunities for the San Antonio community.
Recently, Summer Directors of NSP-San Antonio created an innovative partnership with the St. Mary’s Leadership and Learning Development Center (LLDC), an adult education center, outsourcing its volunteers to the center to conduct a job search-related “soft-skills” class that addressed areas like resume writing skills and interviewing skills. This kind of arrangement helps the LLDC, which is unable to coordinate such a class on its own due to staffing limitations. It also helps establish NSP in the community as experts in employment skills, and helps the clients in the community receive the most comprehensive services offered by both organizations. Similar volunteer-outsourcing initiatives are being developed with the Texas Workforce Centers.
NSP-San Antonio’s student volunteers have a profound impact on the residents of San Antonio. In the last year, student volunteers served 74 clients from the community who needed assistance finding a job, locating housing, securing daycare, or registering for a GED course. A recent segment on a local cable talk show has yielded a large number of calls and appointments for the office; as did a collaborative job fair activity for Make A Difference Day, as does the ongoing support and referrals from community service partners. NSP-San Antonio’s AmeriCorps VISTA member Jodie Briggs recently demonstrated the office’s impact with the conclusion of a recent report she submitted to NSP’s national office.