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Alexander Levitan and Alan Kagan

Alexander Levitan (left) and Alan Kagan are co-chairs of the U's Retirees Volunteer Center. They're hoping to expand their list of volunteers to include more alumni and family members of students or alumni.

U volunteer center seeks more members

By Rick Moore

From M, winter 2005; originally published on October 9, 2004

They can be seen ushering events at the Ted Mann Concert Hall and Rarig Theater, or supporting blood donors at locations around the Twin Cities. And their help is increasingly used for research studies by U faculty and students. For nearly 20 years, University of Minnesota retirees have been volunteering their time and talents to serve the University community and nonprofit agencies in the greater area. In the past year alone, the 106 active members of the Retirees Volunteer Center contributed more than 2,400 hours of assistance. But despite the commitment shown by those thousands of hours, the time has come for an infusion of new blood--so to speak--says center co-chair Alexander Levitan. Due to privacy regulations, it has become difficult to track and recruit new retirees, and the center has been forced to hold back a bit in its ability to offer services. Levitan says he is looking to expand the ranks of the volunteers to include alumni of all ages, whether they work at the U or not, as well as family members of students or alumni, or "anyone who has the well-being of the University at heart." There is no required time commitment. "We could use more bodies," says Levitan. "We could do more if we had more people." In addition to ushering and helping out with blood drives, volunteers do things like stuffing envelopes for different University mailings and staffing concession booths at the Festival of Nations. About two dozen volunteers were recently recognized at a reception at Eastcliff, the residence of University president Bob Bruininks. One of the attendees was Vernon Jensen, formerly a speech communication professor in the College of Liberal Arts, who ushers events at Ted Mann as a way "to keep in touch with the musical performances" at the U. Jensen believes that volunteering is a wonderful way "to keep the connection between past and present." Constance Oriani, until recently the president of the Minnesota Women's Club, recounted with a smile her many years of volunteer service and encouraged others to consider the prospect. "Volunteerism, I really feel, is one way to pay back the really good things we've been given," she says. For more information on volunteering through the center, contact 612-625-8016 or visit

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