By Josh Burnheimer, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations
Service is a large component of our alumni chapters across the country. The Alumni Association encourages all members of the Hokie Nation to commit to service hours, especially during the month of April. Listed below are a few projects that are planned this spring.
To view a complete list, visit the Hokie Nation Serves website.
What is your chapter doing?
Our goal is to have every chapter participate in a family friendly event that gives back to the local community. For assistance in planning an event or discussing ideas, please e-mail email@example.com. Visit the Hokie Nation Serves website for more information on upcoming projects.
By Josh Burnheimer, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations
This past winter break, ten students traveled to Poplarville, Mississippi to assist with the Hurricane Katrina clean-up effort through a YMCA sponsored alternative break program. Students worked six days through the “Katrina Relief” organization where they assisted with an Adopt-A-Family program, plumbed showers in the camp, and assisted in cleanup efforts for one of the relief camps on the coast.
Back in December, an interesting opportunity presented itself for students and Virginia Tech alumni. Students were able to work closely with the New Orleans/Baton Rouge Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association and recruit alumni to help out on their final day of service. Amazingly, some alumni brought friends to help, some even from LSU. The day was spent cleaning up the Pearlington Recovery Center, a relief site that provided shelter and food for thousands for more than four years. Housed on what was once the local high school football field five years ago, it is now being cleaned up and returned to its original purpose. Currently its only resemblance to its past life is the rusted field goal posts nestled among the massive white tents. As the town continues to move forward and residents are settling into newly rebuilt homes, the addition of green space, local parks, and play grounds are some of the final steps in the recovery process for a town where nearly 98 percent of the homes were destroyed.
The YMCA Alternative Break Program trip was a success, and the Virginia Tech Alumni Association will continue to collaborate with the YMCA to ensure alumni-student service trips in the future. Students now will be able to count on alumni for support when they travel on service projects. It’s a great way to provide opportunities for networking and keep alumni involved with their community.
If you would like to help sponsor a volunteer program for students, contact the Alumni Association at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!
By Karen Gilbert, Assistant Director of the Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships at Virginia Tech
What began as a way for the members of the German Club Alumni Foundation to recognize the hundreds of volunteers who rallied around our community after the tragedy in April of 2007, has evolved into an amazing community partnership success story.
Leading Lights seeks to recognize volunteers from all sectors in the New River Valley (NRV) who are making community changing impacts and serving as a model to inspire others. Leading Lights is a community-wide project with people from all around the NRV serving on the Steering Committee, including representatives from area colleges and public schools, the faith community, non-profits, and the business sector.
As a Steering Committee, we are inspired to elevate the importance of volunteerism in this region. This year, 60 people were nominated for the 2010 Leading Lights awards and they represent an amazing dedication to volunteerism.
The chairperson, Charles Warren said “It has been a real privilege to be part of the Steering Committee for the 'Leading Lights' initiative. The diverse, creative and broadly-representative members of the group quickly became cohesive and highly productive, reflecting firm commitment and a strong sense of common cause."
One of the main functions of Leading Lights is to showcase the amazing volunteer work that goes on all around the NRV. Previously non-profit originations held separate awards banquets to honor volunteers, but people all around the community were not always aware of the collective dedicated volunteerism occurring. Leading Lights brings all of the NRV nonprofits together to honor a host of top volunteers and celebrate the spirit of service that exists within the community at large. The Selection Committee, led by Dick Arnold, is representative of all geographic areas of the NRV.
“I admire the fact that Leading Lights has been so inclusive of so many different non-profits throughout the region,” said Gail Billingsley, Executive Director of the YMCA at Virginia Tech.
The ability of the broad based Steering Committee to work together throughout the year on this unique project will make it sustainable into the future. The generosity of the German Club Alumni Foundation in fully sponsoring the first year’s event and funding half of the second year’s event, should inspire all of us to help financially support this most worthwhile community project on an annual basis.
The priceless part of this event is that it is the only time a wide assortment of community volunteers of all ages, one brought together with people who wish to honor them, their organizations and community leaders. Collectively gathering everyone together allows us all to see what a great heart the NRV community has for helping others in need.
The Leading Lights banquet on April 8th at the German Club features very special speakers from our community this year: Dr. Bryan Cloyd will speak about his service in Haiti; Renee Cloyd will speak in part about the Appalachia Service Project; and Paul Torgersen, Virginia Tech President Emeritus will speak on the importance of service. It promises to be a most memorable evening.
By Nathan Lavinka, Director of the Big Event
Focused on service, The Big Event is an opportunity for the Virginia Tech community to live through Ut Prosim. It is a chance for students, faculty, and staff to say “thank you” to the surrounding community. “One Big Day, One Big Thanks.”
The Big Event has seen dramatic growth on Virginia Tech’s campus since it first began in 2002 crafted from similar program at Texas A&M, Christina McClung was the first Director of The Big Event at Virginia Tech. That first year approximately 475 volunteers completed about 60 service projects. Last year, eight years later, about 5,745 volunteers completed almost 745 service projects.
The Big Event has quickly become part of the Virginia Tech experience. Past participants are seen across campus wearing past volunteer t-shirts and people look forward to The Big Event each year. This year the goal is for 7,000 volunteers to complete 1,000 service projects on April 17, 2010.
An example of a new service project is a partnership with another student organization “Stop Hunger Now.” Approximately 2,000 Big Event volunteers will help package about 500,000 meals that will be sent to Haiti.
The Big Event is constantly looking for ways to expand its event. This year The Big Event executive committee is hosting a conference. The purpose of this conference is to expand The Big Event to other colleges and universities.
As The Big Event continues to grow, the opportunities for the Virginia Tech community to live through Ut Prosim grows as well. The Virginia Tech community truly has the ability to do so much for the community around them. Please visit our website at www.vtbigevent.org.