The University of Georgia recently was named to the first President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for distinguished community service. This award recognizes extraordinary volunteer efforts by the school and its students to serve area neighborhoods and Gulf Coast communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
UGA and 140 other institutions of higher education were named to the Honor Roll with Distinction for Hurricane Relief among the nearly 500 schools named for other areas of community service at the Campus Compact 20th Anniversary in mid-October. Schools receiving distinguished service recognition provided exceptional community service over the past year, contributing their time, resources, energy, skills and intellect to serve America.
“I have never been more proud of the UGA community than I was in the response to those in need in the wake of Hurricane Katrina,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “One of the most important components of a UGA education is an understanding that we are obligated to serve our communities, and UGA students, faculty and staff answered that call in heroic fashion.”
In addition to setting up and staffing two shelters for 609 evacuees and pets and participating in fundraising activities, UGA faculty, staff and students utilized their discipline-specific skills to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Faculty and students from the department of psychology, the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and the School of Social Work collaborated with the Athens Area Crisis Response Team to provide psychological and social counseling to evacuees. Representatives from the School of Social Work also formed case management teams to assist evacuees by providing referrals to core services such as relocation planning, housing and medical resources.
The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences sent a team to Mississippi to make agricultural damage assessments, load and unload supply trucks and oversee livestock carcass disposal and care of animals.
Consultants from the UGA Small Business Development Center helped the Mississippi SBDC provide assistance with business disaster recovery and disaster loans.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, emergency planners and citizens across the country learned much about how major disasters can impact individuals and resources located far from the scene. UGA students, faculty and staff demonstrated their readiness to respond in a crisis, and we are very pleased with the outcome,” said Opal Haley, director of UGA’s Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness. “This additional recognition for all who participated in UGA’s Katrina relief efforts is greatly appreciated.”
UGA established an Office of Service-Learning in July 2005 to promote a culture of civic engagement by supporting service-learning scholarship and community-based partnerships. The office is jointly supported by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach and the Office of the Vice President for Instruction.
The Office of Service-Learning works closely with other units on campus, such as Volunteer UGA, to increase awareness of the contributions that students and faculty members make to communities.