Every Pace student is familiar with the Community Engagement program, whether they are in the lower, middle or upper school. Throughout a student’s career at Pace, they are given countless opportunities to give back to the community around them. But each year the program evolves, and these changes have become especially evident over the past few years.
One of the biggest changes with the program occurred last year. The program’s name changed from the Service Learning Program to its current name, the Community Engagement program. The name change highlights the program’s prime objective: encouraging students to physically interact with their communities in order to help others around them.
The program has begun to partner with other programs and departments around Pace to get as many groups involved as possible. One of these partnerships is with the athletics department. Isdell Center for Global Leadership Associate Director Zeena Lattouf believes that this partnership benefits the athletes in addition to helping out those in need. “Engaging with your community, volunteering and being a part of a team have a very similar purpose,” said Ms. Lattouf. “That purpose is basically thinking about the greater good above yourself. It makes a lot of sense for people who are on the same team to be willing to volunteer together because they are so used to thinking about the team or the community above themselves.”
Another new partnership for the Community Engagement program is with the Diversity and Inclusion program. A large part of volunteering is understanding the background behind the community being assisted, and why it is underserved or there is less accessibility for residents to necessary resources. The Diversity program brings in experts who educate others about the issues that occur in and out of the Pace community every day.
A significant change in Community Engagement this year is the way students document their volunteer hours. Pace is one of the first schools in Georgia to use the app MobileServe. By using MobileServe, students no longer have to fill out a physical form, streamlining the process of logging hours. Using the old system, students had to get a signature to confirm their volunteer hours.
The new system, which can be done using students’ phones or computers, has multiple, easy ways to validate the hours. There are options to get an on-the-spot signature, take a picture of the service, send a verification email to someone at the place of volunteering or even geolocate. MobileServe also shows users upcoming volunteer opportunities, making it easier for students to not only document their hours, but also to learn about many options to help the community.
Many students at Pace serve in leadership roles to get other students to engage in volunteering. Agape is an organization where students have the chance to help underprivileged youth with math, reading and homework. Junior Erin Hood, one of the community engagement leaders for Agape, has been volunteering there since seventh grade, and feels that it is important to give back to her community. “We are so privileged to be able to receive such a good education at Pace, so it’s important to help others who might not have these opportunities,” said Hood.
There are places to volunteer all around Atlanta, and each place offers different activities to help the community. At the First Presbyterian Church in Midtown Atlanta, students have the opportunity to serve a sit-down breakfast to people who are homeless. One of the student leaders, sophomore Kate Mallard, sees the world beyond Pace volunteering. “We are kind of in a bubble, so it allows you to be exposed to different styles while also making you appreciate what you have,” said Mallard. Make sure to check MobileServe for upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.