A traditional "Day of Service" initiative involving about 2,000 students, faculty and staff members from The University of Texas at Austin will become a weekend of service this year when the annual Saturday event on Feb. 14 continues on Feb. 15 to include volunteers from throughout the country who are participating in the Clinton Global Initiative University 2009 Meeting in Austin.
The massive neighborhood clean-up and beautification initiative called Project 2009 will be held this year in the Rosewood neighborhood, the inaugural site of the service project when it started 10 years ago. In conjunction with this effort, the university's Project 2009 Committee also will host a community fair for residents of the Rosewood community Feb. 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Doris Miller Auditorium, 2300 Rosewood Ave. It will feature children's activities, cultural performances and information about adult literacy programs, home and property abatement, home safety tips and other topics.
Since the university's volunteer project began, it has involved more than 16,000 volunteers and contributed to an estimated 53,000 hours of service in seven Austin neighborhoods. The project is coordinated by the university's Volunteer and Service Learning Center and works in cooperation with Keep Austin Beautiful, said Yvonne Fuentes, assistant director for the Volunteer and Service Learning Center. Student co-chairs of Project 2009 are Cef Heruela and William Warshauer.
Working in shifts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the university's volunteers on Feb. 14 will help pick up trash, pull and chop weeds in the park areas, paint some local churches and other buildings and plant about 350 trees in selected areas of the neighborhood, Fuentes said. Bus transportation will transport volunteers from the university's Student Services Building on Dean Keeton Street to and from the Rosewood neighborhood.
Fuentes said volunteers may register online or sign up on the morning of Feb. 14 at the Student Services Building, 100 West Dean Keeton St. More information is available by calling 512-471-6161, or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In recognition of the 10th anniversary, Volunteer and Service Learning Center alumni for the past 10 years have been invited to participate in the volunteer project this year. One of the alumni who volunteered in the project's first year was Jessica Wilson, who now is programs manager for Keep Austin Beautiful.
"As a freshman, I was fortunate to get involved in the UT Project 2000 in a very hands-on way, volunteering side-by-side with neighbors and students to haul old mattresses and toilets off of vacant lots," said Wilson. "I never guessed that almost 10 years later I'd be behind the scenes working to ensure projects go smoothly at all of the sites and that students get to share the same sense of fulfillment I experienced from making an enormous difference in just a few hours."
Watch a video of Project 2008.