When major disasters strike anywhere in the world, the person many on campus and in the surrounding community call on is Edgar Dormitorio ’97.

As director of the UCI Volunteer Center, Dormitorio acts as a middle man between those wanting to help the needy and nonprofit agencies that can deliver the aid.  For instance, he helped mobilize volunteers and donations when a deadly tsunami struck the coasts of the Indian Ocean in 2004 and when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast area in September.

The easygoing Dormitorio downplays his role in these efforts, saying he’s merely helping students who want to volunteer find each other and steering them toward relief organizations.

“It’s a matter of coaching them so they can do it on their own,” he says.

If so, Dormitorio’s a good coach: The students collected almost $25,000 for tsunami victims, and they helped run a donation site at the center for hurricane evacuees, filling a conference room with toiletries, food and other supplies.

Dormitorio knows first-hand how rewarding community service can be for students. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social sciences at UCI and a master’s in Asian American studies at UCLA, he volunteered for several nonprofit organizations.

“I didn’t see it as volunteering – just doing something I was passionate about,” he says. “For me, a lot of growing occurred outside the classroom.”

He returned to UCI to work in the Dean of Students office, becoming director of its Volunteer Center four years ago. The center encourages students’ volunteerism through various programs, including a Have-a-Heart Volunteer Fair and Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week last fall, and an upcoming Earth Day Celebration and National Youth Service Day April 22, 2006, and National Volunteer Week April 23-29. Students also attend an Alternative Spring Break, working for nonprofits instead of soaking up the sun in Cancun.

“We’re creating active citizens who will be energized to help in the community,” Dormitorio says.