Athens, Ga. – On March 10, 349 University of Georgia students will depart Athens to spend a week participating in almost 14,000 hours of community service work at 19 sites throughout the U.S.
IMPACT, formerly known as Alternative Spring Break, engages students in an affordable, weeklong, substance-free experiential service-learning program that provides an understanding of pressing societal issues. The event places teams of college students in communities around the country to engage in service activities during their spring break holiday.
Students perform short-term projects for community agencies and learn about social justice issues, including homelessness and poverty, children’s welfare, affordable housing and construction, environmental topics, Native American culture, disability awareness and HIV/AIDS awareness.
Sarah Wilcox, the senior coordinator for UGA’s Center for Leadership and Service, said two new service topics have been added to the program.
“This year, students will journey to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to learn about disaster relief and to help rebuild homes that were damaged or destroyed in tornados last year,” she said. “Students will also learn about lesser-known outcomes of natural disasters, such as abandoned pets.”
In addition, Wilcox said a trip to Washington, D.C. will focus on military veteran issues and awareness. Students will work to beautify the grounds of transitional housing communities and will serve meals at a Veterans Affairs center.
Yami Rodriguez, a second-year international affairs major from Marietta, will work as an IMPACT site leader this year after participating in a trip to Asheboro, N.C. last year to work with affordable housing.
“From learning how to properly use a hammer, to meeting the family that would receive a home built by UGA students, to eating donated meals cooked for us with love, it amazed me that within the small time frame of a week, a group of 20 or so students could grow and learn together when taking part in service,” she said.
Rodriguez said her participation in IMPACT helped her find a community of service-minded students like herself at UGA. “My wishes for the trips this year are too many to count, but overall, I hope that participants will not only make great impacts on the communities they are serving, but also can be impacted in return by the experience.”
UGA’s IMPACT program is one of hundreds that take place across the nation in colleges and high schools. UGA’s program operates almost entirely by student volunteers with guidance from one professional staff member and one doctoral intern.
IMPACT is a program of the Center for Leadership and Service within UGA’s division of student affairs. For more information, call 706/583-0830 or see http://cls.uga.edu.