Emory Report
October 29, 2007
Volume 60, Number 9

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October 29, 2007
Emory Cares about community service

By eric rangus

Justifiably, Emory likes to brag about its dedication to community service. For instance, at Emory, 80 percent of undergraduate students give back to their community in some way. Nationally, the numbers are 59 percent.

On Saturday, Nov. 10, that community spirit will be felt not just by students but by faculty, staff, parents and alumni, all of whom will come together around the world to celebrate the fifth annual Emory Cares International Service Day.

In Atlanta, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., the Emory community will fan out around the metro area to staff more than 20 different service projects. Volunteer Emory is handling the logistics with the assistance of more than a half dozen co-sponsors, and students have done a great deal of the on-campus marketing.

Emory Cares, begun in 2003 by alumna Renelda Mack as a way to encourage alumni participation in community service, has dramatically expanded to include not just alumni but the entire Emory community.

“People at Emory are involved in our community in so many different ways,” said Melody Porter, director of Volunteer Emory. “We’re happy to offer Emory Cares as a way to bring students, alumni, faculty and staff and their families together in diverse service projects across Atlanta, so they can both learn and contribute their best side by side.”

To see a list of service projects in Atlanta and to register, visit www.alumni.emory.edu/atlantaemorycares.
In 2006, Emory Cares had its most successful year ever, expanding to 29 cities and doubling the prior year’s figure with nearly 1,000 volunteers, including President Jim Wagner and First Lady Debbie Wagner, who led a contingent of Emory volunteers on a Habitat for Humanity build in New Orleans. This year’s event is shaping up to be even bigger. For 2007, the number of participating cities is approaching 40 and participant numbers project to well over 1,000.

Much of last year’s growth came in Atlanta as a result of stronger partnerships between the Emory Alumni Association, which originated the project, and student-oriented and student-led campus organizations.

“There is still a lot of planning going on,” said Jennifer Hayward, assistant director for alumni programs with the EAA and project manager for Emory Cares. Alumni take the lead in planning and executing Emory Cares projects outside Atlanta, and the EAA provides logistical and communications support.

“Our projects are run locally by alumni volunteers. Right now about two-thirds are set — location, time, that sort of thing. But more are being added every day,” Hayward continued. Projects include building homes in Baltimore and Durham, N.C., working in an urban garden in Birmingham, Ala., staffing food banks from coast to coast and much more. The “international” aspect of Emory Cares is led by alumni in England, Germany, Korea, Russia and Spain.

Closer to home — and a new aspect of this year’s program — is the participation of Volunteer Emory Reunion attendees. Dozens of alumni who have taken part in Volunteer Emory programming since its birth in the early 1980s will be returning to the Emory campus not only for a reunion on Nov. 9, but to celebrate their bonds through service on Emory Cares Day, Nov. 10.

Emory Cares Oxford frequently draws one of the event’s most diverse crowds, as many faculty and staff join alumni and students on campus for their service project. This year, Oxford’s efforts will benefit the Division of Family and Children Services, in Oxford.

“Now that we are in our fifth year, some of our more established cities and locations have systems in place,” Hayward said. “New cities sometimes need a little more help, but alumni volunteers are always really excited to get involved. It’s fun to work with them. Here in Atlanta, the students do so much and inject so much energy to the day that it’s impossible to not enjoy yourself.”

To see the full list of Emory Cares participating cities, visit www.alumni.emory.edu/news/emorycares.