Emory Report
November 6, 2006
Volume 59, Number 10


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November 6 , 2006
Alumni service day to unite Emory community worldwide

BY eric rangus

From a Habitat for Humanity build in New Orleans to staffing a food bank in San Francisco to helping the disabled in Seoul, South Korea, Emory will demonstrate the spirit of its community service with Emory Cares International Service Day on Nov. 11.

Emory Cares is the signature service project for the Association of Emory Alumni. Through Emory Cares, alumni chapters across the country and around the world coordinate and lead a wide range of service projects that benefit their home communities. While alumni are generally the driving forces behind Emory Cares, the University’s top leaders are among the day’s hundreds of volunteers.

President Jim Wagner and his wife Debbie will lead a group of more than 50 Emory alumni, staff, faculty and students who are traveling from Atlanta to New Orleans to volunteer at an Emory Cares-sponsored new-home build with the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

They will spend two days in New Orleans. Nov. 10 will feature a social event where the Louisiana Emory community can casually mingle at a reception with the Wagners. Emory’s Nov. 11 Habitat build will be in the Upper Ninth Ward at the “Musicians Village.” The village, conceived by New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis, will consist of 81 Habitat-built homes for displaced New Orleans musicians.

“The theme of this year’s Emory Cares is ‘The Spirit of Community: Lead the Way to a Better World,’ and that’s really what the Emory community is all about,” said Leslie Wingate, Emory’s senior director for alumni programs and a 1982 graduate of Emory College. She is one of the Emory staff traveling to New Orleans.
“Emory’s alumni are leaders, and Emory Cares is a great way for them to not only give back to their community but also strengthen their relationships with each other,” she continued. “There is still so much to be done in New Orleans. I think all of us are proud that we can play just a small part in the rebirth of that city.”

While New Orleans is Emory Cares’ most prominent service project, it’s far from the only one. Now in its fourth year, Emory Cares has grown in size each year. The AEA’s 2006 efforts have been greatly helped by a $25,000 donation from Renelda Mack, a 1983 graduate of Emory College and organizer of the first Emory Cares.

Mack received the J. Pollard Turman Alumni Service Award earlier this year for creating Emory Cares and earmarked the $25,000 gift she received from the Tull Foundation as part of the award to help fund Emory Cares.

A total of 12 cities hosted projects in 2003. That number grew to 16 last year.
Now, it’s around 30 cities and registration numbers are already much greater than the 400 worldwide volunteers last year.

“Each project has its own coordinator who is in charge of leading the effort in that city,” said AEA programs assistant Kerry Gallo. Those coordinators, most often Emory alumni, set up group projects with service organizations in their communities, and serve as liaisons with the AEA. The AEA manages online registration and help market the project to alumni in each community.

“Since each project is run locally, each one of them has a distinct feel,” Gallo said. “Emory alumni will be staffing food banks in Boston and Nashville, planting trees in Houston and vegetables in an urban garden in Birmingham, volunteering at a Boys & Girls Club in Denver, and helping restore oyster habitats in Charleston. Our local project coordinators have had some wonderful ideas, and they have followed through with them.”

Most service projects are scheduled for about two or three hours. In Atlanta, there are three central events, plus one sponsored by Atlanta Young Alumni and another at Oxford. Volunteers can attend just one event or commit to the entire day.

Prior to the Atlanta service events, which begin at 1 p.m., the AEA is co-sponsoring with the worldwide Atlanta-based nonprofit CARE an informational session designed to teach the Emory community how to advocate against worldwide poverty.

“Care Even More: Find Your Voice Through Volunteering,” begins at 10 a.m. at the Miller-Ward Alumni House and will include a presentation by Derreck Kayongo, CARE’s advocacy field coordinator, as well as opportunities to meet several other CARE representatives and learn about the wide variety of programs offered by the nonprofit and how to get involved.

“We are very fortunate to have CARE as a partner on Emory Cares International Service Day,” said Jennifer Hayward, assistant director for alumni programs. “The ‘Care Even More’ event is a great way to start the day, especially for alumni, staff or students who have a serious interest in community involvement.”

The hands-on volunteering aspect of Emory Cares in Atlanta will begin at 1 p.m. on McDonough Field, and shuttles will be available. Service project assignments will be handed out and transportation to those sites will be provided.

“Volunteer Emory has been instrumental in connecting us to local nonprofits,” Hayward said.
VE also has done a lot of promotional work among students and a significant number of volunteers in Atlanta will be current students.

All members of the Emory community are invited to participate in Emory Cares. To register for any of the Atlanta events visit www.alumni.emory.edu/atlantaemorycares.

The Web site contains a link to the Emory Cares project on the Oxford campus as well as access to the Web pages of each of the other worldwide Emory Cares projects.

Read Eric Rangus’ first person account of the Emory Cares New Orleans service project in the “Musicians Village” in the Upper Ninth Ward. Look for it in the Nov. 27 issue of Emory Report.