The Project unites alumni, students in community service

Sylvia Butanda

Fifty Texas Exes alumni chapters and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement will team up to host The Project, a community service event aiming to renovate two Austin area neighborhoods on Feb. 25.

Amory Baril, the Volunteer and Learning Center’s program coordinator and The Project’s advisor, said the Project’s collaboration with UT alumni led to the launch of Texas Exes Care About The Project. For the first time since The Project was launched, 13 years ago, Baril said the partnership expects more than 2000 volunteers to participate in the community service project.

“This is a network-wide commitment to service throughout the month of February, anchored by the campus-run event,” Baril said. “We’ll have over 50 volunteers from the Austin chapter at the local event, which far exceeds our expectations from the first year of the program.”

This collaboration was made possible by the staff of The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, which houses the Volunteer and Service Learning Center, Baril said.

“With DDCE’s mission being centered around community outreach and the Texas Exes having so many chapters who contribute so much to their communities, it seemed natural to unite those chapters’ service efforts around this event,” Baril said.

Lydia Cleveland, social work junior and the Project’s co-chair, said Project 2012 will be working with the Dove Springs and Onion Creek Plantation community located in Southeast Austin to provide services for schools, parks, churches, two alleyways and 25 resident locations within the area.

“We’ll mainly be doing beautification projects, such as landscaping, mulching and painting,” Cleveland said. “However, some sites are a little more complicated, so volunteers will be doing repairs as well.”

Cleveland said The Project will also enlist the help of Home Depot to teach volunteers the skills needed to complete their renovations.

“Thankfully, we’re also working closely with Home Depot, so they have agreed to not only donate their time to train students in charge of the volunteers but also to help out,” said Cleveland.

Cleveland, who has volunteered with The Project since 2010, said it is a great opportunity for UT alumni to continue their passion for community service even after leaving campus and offers an amazing opportunity to connect young people to a community in need of support.

Advertising senior Daniel Van said it means a lot that UT alumni have decided to help The Project, because it has so far only been a student based organization.

“It’s great that these alumni want to give back to the community that they grew up in,” Van said. “They are going to get to work together with current students and use their past experiences to motivate those who are volunteering.”