Campus News Georgia Impact

Day of Service allows public service employees to give back to community

PSO Day of Service Gwen Moss-v
Gwen Moss

Gwen Moss works for UGA’s Office for Public Service and Outreach, but that doesn’t mean she’s on the ground serving every day.

“My position keeps me in the office and behind the desk,” said Moss, assistant vice president for fiscal affairs.

When PSO launched its first Day of Service Nov. 20, Moss jumped at the chance to contribute to the mission she supports every day. She helped by working on the grounds at Stroud Elementary School in Athens.

“This is an opportunity to get out and do service work like the other public service and outreach staff do all across the state,” she said. “This is a perfect opportunity for me to get my hands dirty.”

That was one of the driving ideas behind the Day of Service. Staff, faculty and students from the eight PSO units fanned out to nine sites while also participating in a coat drive for the Salvation Army and supply drives for Mercy Health Center and the Athens Area Homeless Shelter.

According to Josh Podvin, who helped coordinate Day of Service projects, 189 people from PSO as well as several from UGA Cooperative Extension and unit-based outreach offices participated in at least one project with a total of 235 hours of service. In addition, 113 people donated supplies for local nonprofits and 189 coats were collected.

Jennifer Frum, vice president for public service and outreach, participated in several projects and stopped by others to thank employees for their contributions.

“We try to get together once a year to celebrate our work and celebrate the impact of the work that the University of Georgia does across the state,” Frum said. “Our faculty and staff really wanted something more meaningful than an ice cream social or a barbecue lunch. So they asked, ‘How can we do something where we come together as a group but we’re also making a difference?’ We couldn’t think of a better way to do that than working with our great external partners in the Athens community.”

Employees were enthusiastic about the work. EJ Hovell, director of sales at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education, was among a large group of PSO employees helping the Project Safe Thrift Store organize its shelves.

“For those of us who are actually involved in community service yearlong, it’s an opportunity to learn about new projects especially perhaps in a county in which we don’t live,” said Hovell, who lives in Oconee County.

“It just seemed like a no-brainer,” said William Tonks, director of visitor services at the State Botanical Garden. Tonks worked on projects at the Clarke Middle School garden on Baxter Street.

“UGA has so many people that have either willingness or skills,” he said. “It’s also win-win because it gets you out in the community. You get to see more of the community and get to meet more of the UGA personnel. It also gets you out of the office.”