Campus News

UK Advising Network Serves Community With Day of Service



LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 28, 2011) − The University of Kentucky Advising Network recently served the Lexington community through its annual Day of Service. The day allows members of the Network to give back to their community after the academic year has ended. UK advisers generally cannot participate in the university's annual FUSION day of service due to advising responsibilities, so the Network came up with the idea of doing their own service day.

"If we're going to tell students that it is important to do service, we need to be willing to do it ourselves," said Advising Network Chair Matthew Deffendall.

This year, the second year the Network has held the event, 45 advisers volunteered their time at Lexington's Catholic Action Center (CAC). Ginny Ramsey, co-founder of the CAC, first gave the advisers an introduction to the group's mission before the day's work began. The CAC, she told them, was founded in June 2000 as an all-volunteer movement based on the work of Dorothy Day, who established the Catholic Worker Program during the Great Depression.

"She said at the CAC, the whole premise is that in the Catholic faith, there is an expectation that every parish would have an inn of hospitality, and that this community would provide this, and that this would be a place of rest," Deffendall said. "That's what started the CAC. They provide three square meals a day at the location to anyone who comes in. They have a store—much like a Goodwill store—where people can get clothing or books or other items, and it's all free."

The CAC, however, only had chairs for people to stay overnight. That changed after the World Equestrian Games, when the CAC was able to acquire a facility off Winchester Road that had been used for the Games. The CAC now uses this facility to house anyone who needs a place to spend the night.

"Local volunteers refurbished the space, and it's now the Community Inn," Deffendall said. "It opens at 7 every night. They have workshops, activities, computer classes, games—it's a rec center, so to speak. At 10, it's lights out and they have air mattresses there where people can sleep. They've had up to 59 people in a night, but they average 30 to 40."


The UK Advising Network split into two teams for their Day of Service, with a "blue" team spending their day at the Winchester Road facility and a "white" team at the CAC's 7th street facility. The blue team spent the day organizing the CAC's Christmas store donations.

"After a while, just throwing things into a room gets a little crowded," said Deffendall. "Our job was to take everything out of the warehouse, sweep, and then put it back in by category. All the furniture, household goods, toys and other things went into their own area."

The white team did similar work at a CAC warehouse in downtown Lexington. In addition to cleaning out the warehouse, some volunteers helped with the CAC's laundry service. When the Community Inn closes each morning, individuals who have stayed there overnight are then directed to the CAC's 5th Street facility for breakfast and the 7th Street facility to use the laundry service for free. The Advising Network volunteers helped clean clothes for these individuals.


"Our job as academic advisers is a service," said Advising Network Secretary and Day of Service Coordinator Tricia Hargrove. "It is for this reason why we choose to support the city of Lexington by volunteering at local community service organizations through our annual Day of Service."

Hargrove said this year the group focused its work solely on one organization, rather than dividing up into several groups as they did the first year.

"The first year we did this, we chose five or six community service organizations and sent groups of volunteers to each location," explained Hargrove. "This year I liked that we concentrated our efforts on one organization and volunteered together as a large group. I could tell a huge difference in how the volunteers really enjoyed being together. And the facility supervisors stated how much they appreciated that we donated our day solely to the Catholic Action Center."

Next year, Hargrove said, the Advising Network will change the name of its annual Day of Service to 'CATS Day,' which stands for Creating Advising Teamwork Through Service.

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