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Voluntarios Ahora en Raleigh (VOLAR)

VOLAR partners students of Spanish with organizations that address the needs of the Hispanic community. These collaborations are mutually beneficial — students practice and enhance their language skills while gaining professional experience and “soft skills,” and outreach organizations are better able to fulfill their mission with the help of these valuable volunteers.

Volunteer Opportunities

NC State students of Spanish: are you looking to improve your speaking skills? Do you want an authentic opportunity to use Spanish outside of the classroom? If you are in or have completed FLS 202 or above, ¡Vuela con nosotros! We provide diverse opportunities for our volunteers to use their Spanish language skills and interact with the local Hispanic community. Expand your language base, cultural exposure and professional experience. You may participate in one-time events as well as ongoing weekly or biweekly commitments.

“Not only has VOLAR provided me with opportunities to practice Spanish while serving the Hispanic community, VOLAR has given me more confidence in both Spanish and myself.”

Nicholas Snow, VOLAR volunteer

Possible volunteer responsibilities include communicating with children and parents in Spanish, distributing information, answering questions, assisting Hispanic patrons with paperwork to determine eligibility for services, helping with crafts and projects, and setting up and breaking down events.

Douglas Elementary School Literacy Night

Thank you so much for organizing the VOLAR readers for our Literacy Night at Douglas! The readers were phenomenal! Please let them know how grateful we are for their help and what a wonderful job they did. It was so nice for some of our families to be able to listen to stories in Spanish. The whole evening was a huge success and your VOLAR folks were outstanding! Thank you!

Tom Fairweather

Douglas Elementary School

Current Community Partners

VOLAR opportunities include one-time events and semester-long commitments. Some of our community partner organizations include:

Urban Ministries Open Door Clinic

1390 Capital Blvd. Provides free or reduced-cost health care to low-income residents. Volunteers assist with intake of new patients (filling out forms to determine their eligibility for the program), scheduling and confirming appointments.  

Brentwood Elementary School

Brentwood Elementary School, 3426 Ingram Dr. Raleigh. Read-aloud in Spanish to Spanish-speaking elementary students. 

Consulado de México:

431 Raleigh View Rd.  Offers a variety of services to Mexican citizens residing in North and South Carolina. Volunteers read aloud in Spanish to the children of Consulate patrons. 

Partner with VOLAR


Does your organization have an event or existing program that would benefit from Spanish-speaking volunteers? We see our partnerships with local organizations as symbiotic relationships — our students gain language practice and cultural exposure while providing needed service to the partner organizations. We implement new partnerships each semester. 

“These students rescue clients when they need it the most — when they are unable to verbalize the help that they need. We could not run efficiently without the help of the VOLAR program.”

– Hannah Pettus, Manager of Volunteer Services, Urban Ministries of Wake County

VOLAR currently partners with, or has partnered with in the past: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department; The Clothing Ministry, First Baptist Church; Mexican Consulate of Raleigh; Salem Elementary School; Ventanilla de Salud, sponsored by El Pueblo; HELPS / Leamos para Avanzar; Open Door Clinic, sponsored by Urban Ministries; Community HOPE / Alexander Family YMCA; Family Resource Center of Raleigh; El Centro para Familias Hispanas; Holly Ridge Elementary School / Douglas Elementary School; and Wake County Public School System’s Special Education Program.


VOLAR is a collaboration between students and faculty of NC State’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and outreach organizations in the local community. It was co-founded by Dr. Shelley Garrigan and James McConnell. Debbie Kane now serves as Director.

VOLAR has been recognized with two awards: the Opal Mann Green Engagement and Scholarship Awards, given by NCSU’s Department of Outreach and Engagement, and the Fred Fletcher Award for Outstanding Cultural Resources Volunteer, given by the City of Raleigh’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources. 

VOLAR Coordinators

 Director: Emily Sands (

 Assistant Director: Hannah Peterson (