UT Students Mark Twenty Years of Spring Break Volunteering

 

It’s been twenty years since Volunteers began serving others during spring break.

A team of students and supervisors is heading back to Miami this weekend—where it all began—as well as to Tallahassee, Florida, and Washington, DC, to continue the twenty-year tradition of Tennessee Volunteers volunteering during their spring break.

In all, forty-nine students and nine faculty, staff, and graduate assistants will depart from campus Sunday, March 24. While those heading to Miami will leave for the airport in the afternoon, the groups heading to Tallahassee and Washington will depart at 8:00 a.m. from Staff Lot 25 on Andy Holt Avenue, across from the Allan Jones Aquatic Center.

This year, each group will focus on a service theme.

In Miami, students’ service will focus on environmental issues and exploring the unique ecosystems of the area, as well as the impact the urban environment and its residents have on these ecosystems. Volunteers will spend their time working to preserve the Everglades and Biscayne Bay national parks.

In Tallahassee, students will focus on serving the community through the lens of underrepresented populations suffering from hunger and homelessness. This will include working in homeless shelters, women’s facilities, and with the elderly.

Students traveling to Washington will focus on urban poverty, serving up healthy meals in kitchens, fixing up affordable housing, and helping to clean up some of the city’s parks. Students also will have the opportunity to see how community building helps alleviate poverty in the area, and to learn the economic and social factors contributing to the persistence of poverty in some of our country’s most historic cities.

The groups will return Saturday afternoon, March 30. The trips are organized by the Center for Leadership and Service, the campus volunteer hub, formally known as TeamVOLS. The center organizes alternative spring and fall breaks, both of which commonly have waiting lists for participants.

Other campus groups are also using their spring breaks to give back.

College of Law

Students from the College of Law will be working in conjunction with law students from Belmont University and the University of Memphis during spring break to help victims of domestic abuse. They’re collaborating on the U-visa program, which gives them their first opportunity to take ownership of a case and see it through to the end by researching and collecting case-related documents.

U-visas are designed to give legal status in the United States to people who’ve been the victims of crimes. The visas are given to people who have cooperated with law enforcement to help bring their aggressors to justice. The students collaborate with faculty advisors, victim advocates, and practicing attorneys to work through the legal process of having their clients’—and their clients’ children’s—visas approved.

The college is continuing its partnership with Legal Aid of East Tennessee, which provides students with the opportunity to conduct legal research and other volunteer work.

A group of students also will return to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to participate in the “Wills for Warriors” program, helping current military personnel get their wills, estate planning, and power of attorney documents in order.

College of Nursing

Eighteen undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Nursing will leave Friday, March 22, to return to Costa Rica for the college’s fifth annual alternative spring break trip to the country. The students, along with three supervising faculty members, will provide health care and education to the underserved communities in San Jose. They also will visit an orphanage for disabled children.

The group will work in San Jose for more than a week, returning Sunday, March 31.

Habitat for Humanity

The campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity will be bringing fiftteen students to participate in a Collegiate Challenge, Friday, March 22, through Friday, March 29, in Lakeland, Flroida. Collegiate Challenge gives college students an opportunity to partner with a Habitat affiliate in another city, building houses for a week. For more information, e-mail habitat@utk.edu.

CONTACTS:

Rebekah Winkler (865-974-8304, rwinkler@utk.edu)

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