June 7, 2010

Service projects key part of Staff Fest

Dress for Success Volunteers

Child Development Association Volunteers

Marcus Autism Center Volunteers

International Rescue Committe Volunteers

Volunteer service is a growing dimension of Staff Fest, kicking off the employee celebration the morning of May 14. Started by Employee Council, Staff Fest Service Day has become a tradition over the last few years with a choice of opportunities and volunteers from across the University.

“It’s a lovely way to spend a morning, giving time to the community beyond Emory’s walls.  And it’s a great way to get acquainted with some people whose paths you might not otherwise ever cross,” says Linda Sheldon, manager of accessible design and construction, and a chief mover behind the staff service day.

Organized by Volunteer Emory coordinator Harold McNaron, projects this year included the Marcus Autism Center, Dress for Success, DeKalb Memorial Park Community Garden, International Rescue Committee, Open Hand and the Child Development Association in Roswell.

Margie Varnado joined a group of about 10 at the Marcus Center to work on a playhouse. “We wanted to choose something we felt we could really make a difference,” says the Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences business manager.

“Our understanding is the playhouse we worked on had not been able to be used for two years,” she says. “We painted it, cleaned it — it was pretty dirty — and one of the carpenters here fixed the door” so it could be secured, and built a couple of little steps so the children could access it more easily. “Now it can be used.”

Ann Uher, senior financial consultant, also volunteered, “It is wonderful to help in our community and get to know the other Emory volunteers and those that run the nonprofits.”

She chose the Marcus Center because “a very close friend has an autistic son who I’ve known for many years, so I wanted to help.”

Leo Andres volunteered at the International Rescue Committee, helping clients of the organization fill out applications for food stamps. The manager of projects in the School of Public Health called it a “really interactive” experience with a high degree of participation, helping “maybe around 40 clients for IRC. The best thing you got out of it was just being able to interact with people from other countries — with people who needed your help and just being able to do something good for people.”

Sheldon says Volunteer Emory has ideas for more promotion of the program and sees its success continuing to grow. Find out about next year’s opportunities when notices about Staff Fest go out each spring.

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