HATTIESBURG, Miss. - This is a press release from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Students at The University of Southern Mississippi performed more than 97,500 service hours in the previous fiscal year (July 2015-June 2016) according to statistics compiled by the University’s Center for Community and Civic Engagement (CCCE). Approximately 55,650 hours were performed by individuals who served at one location throughout the year.
A total of 28 Hattiesburg-area agencies/organizations were served by Southern Miss students with a calculated economic value of $1,904,371. Hours served specifically with CCCE’s programs had an estimated value of $798,232.
“It’s amazing to see how involved our students are in the community,” said CCCE Director Christy Arrazattee. “Several student organizations have ‘adopted’ a local organization that they support throughout the year, which is important in terms of building capacity in our community, but also important for the students who become knowledgeable about an organization and have the opportunity to gain real-world experience.”
Arrazattee points out that many students participate in service-learning programs where they work with a non-profit throughout the semester to utilize skills learned in the classroom.
“It is these types of activities that impress me the most, because I know they are most impactful to both our community and the students,” she said.
The University has developed particularly close partnerships with the Edwards Street Fellowship Center, Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center, Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, Hawkins Elementary School, and Habitat for Humanity. Many students also volunteer with Christian Services and Fieldhouse for the Homeless.
The center uses a variety of methods to recruit and train students for community service work. CCCE staffers meet one-on-one with students to ascertain their particular interests and help match them with the appropriate community organization. Each fall a Volunteer Fair is held on the Hattiesburg campus that allows community organizations to interact with potential volunteers.
Last year the CCCE introduced a web-based program called GiveGab -- https://user-content.givegab-cdn.com/documents/document/file/648/Student_How-To_GiveGab.pdf -- that community partners can use to post volunteer opportunities. Through GiveGab individuals can create their own profile and search for opportunities, log their service hours, and stay connected to organizations they support.
Arrazattee notes that the number of students reporting hours via GiveGab has steadily increased since September, 2015. Volunteers signed up for 111 opportunities on GiveGab during the 2015-16 school year.
To learn more about the Center for Community and Civic Engagement, call 601.266.5074 or visit: https://www.usm.edu/center-community-and-civic-engagement