Volunteers Begin Year by Giving Something Back

Sept. 8, 2009

UT Dallas marked the end of Welcome Week 2009 with a service project aimed at fostering an appreciation for civic engagement.

More than 650 students volunteered at 22 organizations around the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Aug. 29 as part of Viva Volunteer!, hosted by the Office of Student Volunteerism.

“This campus-wide event provided students, staff and faculty the opportunity to give back to the community through volunteering while getting to know new friends and welcoming our freshmen to the UT Dallas family,” said Monalisa Amidar, assistant director of the Office of Student Volunteerism.

The Living Learning Communities (LLC) program at the University participated in Viva Volunteer! with its “Congo Street Project.”

About 175 LLC students and staff went into the Jubilee Park Neighborhood to conduct energy audits, install energy-efficient light bulbs and perform light home repairs.

“The Congo Street project was an opportunity for our students to develop connections and appreciation for diverse populations, build a sense of empowerment and create group identity in our own backyard,” said Mary Jane Suarez Partain, assistant director of Living Learning Communities.

In order to foster an appreciation for civic engagement, LLC students are encouraged to complete 40 hours of service during the academic year.

“It is our belief that service can help the students confirm their future professions,” Partain said.

“For the non-profit organizations involved, it is a great conduit into our student body for education and recruitment. For the community, this experience helped to improve their living spaces and daily life,” Partain said.

“At the UT Dallas Office of Student Volunteerism, we believe in empowering our students to become a driving force of positive change in the greater North Texas region and in their own communities,” Amidar said. “By partnering with Living Learning Communities to facilitate a service learning project during Welcome Week, students were introduced to some of the social issues that affect the D-FW area so that, as they are thinking about the next four years in college, they can think of ways to connect or apply their academic studies with service.”

The Living Learning Communities program at the University takes a holistic approach to education. Freshmen who participate in the program live together in the new Residence Hall, take classes together, and attend specialized programming.

All LLC events and programs are created with specific learning competencies in mind, and the program includes major- and interest-based living communities.

Major-based communities are geared toward for those interested in arts and technology, engineering and computer science or management.

Interest-based communities target students of all majors with interests in multicultural living and learning, music, pre-health and social justice.

Media Contacts: Teala Miller, UT Dallas, 972-883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
Brandon V. Webb, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, Brandon.webb@utdallas.edu

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Student applying repairs to a door frame

A student works on the door frame of a house as part of the Viva Volunteer initiative.

A student volunteer holding up a coil of door stripping

A volunteer holds a coil of weather stripping as part of a team conducting energy audits in the Jubilee Park neighborhood.

A parade of students walking down the street where they volunteered

About 175 LLC students and staff members went to the Jubilee Park Neighborhood to volunteer.

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September 22, 2014