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CCU Atheneum: Track I participants volunteered in November at Catholic Charities in Conway.
Track I participants volunteered in November at Catholic Charities in Conway.

CCU Leadership Institute participants spent November serving others

by Caroline P. Rohr
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The participants of the Leadership Institute at Coastal Carolina University spent the month of November getting a whole new perspective on what it means to volunteer.

November was service month for the institute, administered by the Office of Training, Development and Service Excellence. Each of the three leadership tracks (Leading Self, Leading Others and Leading Change) had a different service project to work on. More than 80 CCU employees participate in the yearlong institute across the three tracks.

After the Homecoming event known as “Can-struct,” during which student organizations build structures using canned goods, all of the goods were donated to Catholic Charities. The donation of more than 4,000 canned goods ended up consuming much of the organization's space, and they didn't have the volunteer manpower to sort and organize the donations quickly.

Enter Track I, the largest of the three tracks with more than 40 participants. Working together, the CCU employees were able to sort and organize all of the donations in around two hours, clearing up all the floor space for Catholic Charities.

“If Track I hadn't sorted those cans, [Catholic Charities] would probably still be working on it today because they are so short on volunteers,” said Nick DeStefano, training coordinator for TDSE.

Track I also learned about micro-volunteering during their November session, which DeStefano said means doing service wherever you are, however you are able. They created cards to send to two separate organizations across the country who would send the cards to children and to troops overseas.

Track II's project has a longer duration. Those employees are working on a donation drive for A Father's Place, a local nonprofit that serves fathers who aren't primary members of their families. The drive will last for the rest of the fall semester and is collecting used technology, like computers, phones or tablets. Donations are being collected from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 11-13 in the student union rotunda.

Track III's project is a change management project that involves seven nonprofit agencies across the Grand Strand. The civic engagement office within student life has a goal of improving mutually beneficial relationships with area nonprofits so they can be served where it's needed most while at the same time helping CCU accomplish part of its mission to develop globally responsible citizens. The office identified seven agencies that would benefit students but with which they didn't have an established working relationship.

Track III participants paired up and were assigned one of the nonprofits with two goals: to serve the agency and the University, and to create a best practices guide that will be submitted to student life.

This is a yearlong project that requires the participants to volunteer with the agency, attend a board meeting and meet with agency executives to find out the best way to start developing a mutually beneficial relationship between the agency and the University.

The seven agencies are: United Way of Horry County, Habitat for Humanity of Horry County, New Directions of Horry County, Caris Healthcare, Family Justice Center of Georgetown and Horry Counties, SOS Health Care, Inc., and Low Country Food Bank.

The work is already starting to pay off. In early November, Leadership Institute participants helped United Way of Horry County during their United to Read event. More than 150 volunteers across the county read to around 5,000 first-graders in Horry County schools.

“Hopefully we will be able to volunteer for the holidays,” said Ross Foultz, lecturer in the Department of Computing Sciences and Track III participant. “We met with the CEO and he is very excited to work with us.”

Tammy Kelly, Foultz and Judy Johns are working with United Way. Jean Bennett and Lauren Koonce are working with Habitat for Humanity; Ashley Long and Brian Carter are working with New Directions of Horry County. Amanda Sturgeon and Brianne Parker are working with Caris Healthcare; Dennis Edwards and Kelly Parnell are working with the Family Justice Center. Greg Johnson and April Betsch are working with SOS Health Care, and Melanie McKeefery and Donna Lewis are working with the Low Country Food Bank.

Track III participants will continue to work on their service project through April and May. The 2018-2019 Leadership Institute will graduate in May, and applications for the 2019-2020 class will be available that summer. Each track builds on the preceding track, and all tracks take nine months to complete.


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