UGA students spend spring break volunteering


UGA Impact

A group of students spent their 2012 spring break volunteering in Charlotte, NC.

 

A group of 438 University of Georgia students spent the week of March 8 participating in community service work at 20 sites across the U.S. instead of the typical spring break destinations like the beach and amusement parks.

 

These students made a difference by serving in soup kitchens, cleaning up state parks, building family housing and working with abused children. The students signed on for IMPACT, a program that offers substance-free, experiential service-learning projects and encourages an understanding of pressing societal issues. Students perform short-term projects for community agencies and learn about social justice issues, including homelessness and poverty, children's wellbeing, affordable housing and construction, human rights, environmental topics, animal advocacy, Native American culture, disability awareness and HIV/AIDS awareness.

 

Kalpana Reddy, a third year biology and psychology major, was one of the student site leaders for a trip to Bluefield, W.Va. focusing on ageism. There, students learned about mentoring programs and spent time with senior citizens.

 

"IMPACT opens peoples' eyes to social injustices that exist outside our UGA bubble," said Reddy. "It gives students a unique and life-changing week of service."

 

The program evolves each year, adding trips based on student interest. New initiatives this year included activities focusing on urban environmental issues, food justice, educational advocacy, rural homelessness and poverty.

 

Sarah Ginsberg, a fourth year advertising and sociology major who serves as IMPACT's outreach coordinator, said the students who go on the trips come back to Athens with an increased awareness of issues and a renewed motivation to help the community.

 

"Participants complete their trips knowing how much of a difference they made in the community they served, which often inspires the individual to continue their involvement in service upon their return to Athens," Ginsberg said.

 

IMPACT is one of hundreds of similar programs that take place across the nation in colleges and high schools. It is run almost entirely by student volunteers with guidance from one professional staff member and one doctoral intern.

 

UGA's trips this spring break, their focus and what students will be doing, were:

  • Asheboro, N.C., affordable housing, students built a house for a family;
  • Atlanta, Ga., human rights and LGBT awareness, students worked with Georgia Equality, Atlanta Pride, The Health Initiative and HRC Atlanta;
  • Bluefield, W.Va., ageism, students learned about youth empowerment through mentoring programs and spent time with seniors;
  • Charleston, S.C., animal advocacy, students promoted issues involving animals and learned how to live a more animal-friendly lifestyle;
  • Charlotte, N.C., education advocacy, students worked with Teach for America and KIPP schools;
  • Chicago, Ill., homelessness and poverty, students volunteered at soup kitchens and homeless shelters;
  • Clinton, S.C., children's advocacy, students volunteered at Thornwell Home for Children and worked with children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected;
  • Durham, N.C., food justice, students visited farms and served in food banks and pantries;
  • Gulf Shores, Ala., human rights and human trafficking, students volunteered with prevention and rehabilitation trafficking organizations;
  • Immokalee, Fla., human rights and immigration, students worked with organizations that help the children of immigrants and organizations that provide supplies to immigrants below the poverty line;
  • Indianapolis, Ind., public health, students worked with farms and promoted physical activity in children through a partnership with the YMCA;
  • Jackson, Miss., disability/ability awareness, students worked at Hope Hollow Ministries, Mustard Seed, RideABILITY and Pleasant Hills Nursing Home;
  • Mobile, Ala., disaster relief, students learned about how disasters affected the city of Mobile and about what the people do before, during and after a disaster happens;
  • New Orleans, La., urban environmental awareness, students worked with Green Light New Orleans, Our School at Blair Grocery, Sustain the Nine, Hike for KaTREEna, the Latino Farmers Co-op and more;
  • New River Valley, Va., rural homelessness and poverty, students worked with various homeless shelters, educational organizations and childcare services to gain a different perspective on the causes and effects of rural homelessness and poverty;
  • Orlando, Fla., children's advocacy, students worked with Give Kids the World, an organizations that helps make the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses come true;
  • Pembroke. N.C., Native American cultural awareness, students worked with tribal elders for the Lumbee Tribe and children at the tribal Boys and Girls Club;
  • Philadelphia, Pa., disability/ability awareness, students volunteered at an organization that provides resources, companionship and community to people with disabilities of all ages;
  • South Florida, environmental awareness, students helped cleanup national parks and worked with sustainable projects including gardens;
  • St. Louis, Mo., HIV/AIDS awareness, students volunteered at Doorways, a facility that houses people affected with HIV/AIDS, and ConnectCare, a hospital that aims to provide fast and affordable healthcare to their patients in 60 minutes or less.

 

IMPACT is advised out of UGA Student Affairs' Center for Leadership and Service.

 

For more information, call 706-583-0830 or see http://cls.uga.edu.

 

UGA Student Affairs
The Division of Student Affairs comprises 20 campus departments that enhance the learning environment for students at the University of Georgia by stimulating the learning process, integrating the in-class and out-of-class experiences, promoting an environment conducive to growth and discovery and facilitating intellectual, spiritual, social, occupational, physical, cultural and emotional development. For more information, see studentaffairs.uga.edu.