Posted April 10, 2013 by Beth Bailey 

Reflections on Community Service

Can you believe that Hurricane Katrina happened about eight years ago? Shortly after that, the ACUI annual conference was in New Orleans. The Conference Planning Team created seven community service projects that helped the city. I was part of that first-ever ACUI-sponsored community service project that attracted several hundred committed ACUI volunteers. It was a sobering and moving experience. In fact, I even felt a bit selfish because volunteering made me feel good to give back in some small way.

Recently, after having served as a Conference Planning Team member for the 2013 ACUI annual conference in St. Louis, I reflected on the community service projects we offered. One of our goals for planning the three active projects we offered was to give back to St. Louis and have the experiences be unique to St. Louis. We chose three sites for the projects:

We also offered two passive community service projects: collecting toiletries for Gateway 180 and collecting backpacks for PB & Joy, a backpack program through Washington University.

Both the active and passive programs met with great success with:

  • 30 backpacks were collected and given to the PB & Joy program
  • 75 pounds of toiletries and $126 were collected and given to Gateway 180
  • 1,133 bags of food were prepared for backpacks for Operation Food Search
  • 30 ACUI members volunteered

In keeping the tradition of offering community service projects alive at ACUI’s annual conferences, next year’s 2014 ACUI annual conference in Orlando will be strive to have each attendee participate in service. This service could be passive or active, on site or off site, small or large. Regardless, the Conference Program Team is seeking 100% participation from the ACUI community.

The spirit of service certainly lives beyond the annual conference in our Association. As ACUI gears up to celebrate our 100th anniversary, our caring community is dreaming big on how our Association can celebrate our core value of unconditional human worth through service. The 100th Anniversary Task Force is opening a call for members to “Change the World in 100 Hours.” Join in as an individual or gather a group from your institution’s union and pledge to complete 100 hours of service between January 1, 2014 and the 2015 annual conference in San Antonio. Resources and ideas will be provided to make these 100 hours seem like 100 minutes. Find more information here.

In the meantime, if you want to do community service in and around your own area, check out these great websites about getting involved: Charity Navigator, Corporation for National and Community Service, and Great Nonprofits.

So many good things happen when you volunteer. Be selfish and volunteer! It makes you feel good. 

What types of service projects does your campus offer for students and staff to engage in your community?

Beth Bailey

Beth Bailey is the Assistant Director-Programs, K-State Student Union at Kansas State University.

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