Karen Judd, 404-413-1443
Development and Alumni Affairs
Georgia State University students learn more than academics; they learn how to give back to the community through volunteerism. That message was reinforced recently during GSU Cares, a daylong community service event for Georgia State alumni, students, family and friends that drew 370 people.Sponsored by Georgia State’s Alumni Association to commemorate the university’s Centennial, GSU Cares was held on March 9 at 13 nonprofit sites in metro Atlanta. From cleaning and making repairs at the PAWS Atlanta animal shelter to packing nutritious meals for the elderly at Open Hand, the spirit of volunteerism made an impact.
“We are very excited to have more than 400 people registered,” said Renee Bazemore, director of the Alumni Association. “We hope to expand every year to get more projects and volunteers.”
That would suit Jack, the unofficial mascot at the Historic Oakland Cemetery, just fine. The pint-sized Boston Bull Terrier was as excited to see new friends planting bulbs and pulling weeds on the cemetery grounds as they were to be there. Oakland, founded in 1850, is Atlanta’s oldest cemetery. More than 70,000 people are interred there, including confederate soldiers, famous Atlantans and slaves.
“It was really cool getting in the dirt. Planting is actually new to me,” said Samee Muhammad, who wasn’t too proud to admit his knees hurt from squatting for hours while he gardened.
“But it’s all worth the sacrifice,” he said smiling, “because we love Georgia State.”Muhammad, a senior who is majoring in psychology, brought a group of his friends with him from the university’s 1913 Society, a student ambassador program created by the office of Georgia State president Mark P. Becker to serve as hosts and goodwill ambassadors for the school.
Renee Vincent-Martin is no stranger to gardening – she plants flowers with her mom at home, so gently digging up bulbs and replanting them for Oakland’s bulb relocation project came easily. It was the thought of being in a cemetery that made her a little nervous.
“I thought it would be scary because it’s a cemetery. But it’s so much fun,” said Vincent-Martin, a freshman.
The Oakland volunteers had a good mix of alumni and students, including about 20 Panther Football players. In addition to gardening, they learned about the history of Oakland and played toss with Jack.
“It’s fantastic―fresh air, good fun and good people. How do you beat that,” said Keith Valentine, an alumnus who earned an MBA from Georgia State in 1979.
Service projects for GSU Cares were divided into five categories that included animal welfare, health and welfare, homeless and housing services, youth and children, environmental, nature and preservation.
Although many Georgia State students and alumni no doubt volunteer on their own, the university hopes the annual day of giving will eventually spread to alumni in other states and become a national day of service.
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