Reaching for the stars

While its not her usual past time, Paige Carmichael’s role in the first “Dancing with the Athens Stars” in 2008 was how the College of Veterinary Medicine’s associate dean for academic affairs initially got involved with the local charity Project Safe. 

Project Safe, which is supported by UGA’s Campaign for Charities, works to end domestic violence through prevention and educational programs, crisis intervention and support services. “Dancing with the Athens Stars” is one of the organization’s major fundraisers.

Carmichael, a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of Pathology, has been on the nonprofit’s board for more than two years. In addition to her normal work of fundraising and advocating for the organization, she also has helped inspire other faculty from the veterinary medicine college to lend a hand to Project Safe. 

In 2009, Kate Creevy, an assistant professor of small animal medicine, and Karen Cornell, a professor of small animal medicine and surgery, began Vets for Pets and People, a program that provides help for domestic abuse victims who have pets.

“What we found is that there are many people who have animals; and, because of the animals, they’re either reluctant to leave a place where they’re being abused or the animals themselves are being abused,” Carmichael said. “So what Drs. Cornell and Creevy have done is to put together a network of people who will foster these animals while their owners are at the shelter.”

The nature of the work—helping men, women and children in the Athens area who have suffered from domestic abuse to lead healthy and productive lives—has kept Carmichael coming back to the organization. A judge at the 2010 “Dancing with the Athens Stars” fundraiser, she’s even shopped at P.S. Too, one of the organization’s secondhand resale shops, located at 1055 Gaines School Road. 

“It’s such a wonderful opportunity to give back to a community that gives so much back to us,” she said. “I just love it.”

UGA faculty and staff can contribute to Project Safe or any of the other 1,200 worthy organizations through the Campaign for Charities. For 11 years in a row, UGA has been awarded the Governor’s Cup for the highest contribution per employee for organizations with at least 9,000 employees. Last year, the UGA community contributed almost $440,000 from more than 2,200 donors. This year the goal is $435,000, and the participation target is 25 percent.