Students move into the streets of Atlanta to give back

Members of Tech’s incoming freshman class did their part to break the Tech bubble on Saturday, Aug 28. Mobilizing Opportunities for Volunteer Experience (MOVE) hosted its annual Into the Streets event last week, where the incoming freshmen class worked on community service projects in the Atlanta community.

“It’s a wonderful half-day of service for our incoming freshmen. I like to call it a Baby Team Buzz [since] it’s modeled after Team Buzz, just like Team Buzz is modeled after Hands-on Atlanta,” said Billiee Pendleton-Parker, Associate Director of the President’s Scholarship Program and one of the volunteers orchestrating the event.

The Into the Streets program is part of MOVE’s campaign to get Tech students involved in community service in the Atlanta area.

“MOVE is focused on the Atlanta area and suburbs, just because there are so many issues in the area we live in. We live just two miles from one of the most dangerous zip codes in the nation, there’s so much that needs to happen, so we chose to just focus on Atlanta, and, at the same time, to provide a chance for service to Tech students,” said Emma Bones, president of MOVE and third-year EnvE major.

“MOVE is Georgia Tech’s umbrella organization for a variety of community service and volunteer opportunities. Our organization consists of 12 committees that address various issues and provide many service opportunities throughout the year…MOVE exists to serve the community as a whole by facilitating service activities by Georgia Tech’s faculty, staff, and students that will increase the participants’ self worth, leadership abilities, value of diversity, and motivation to be involved in the community at large while at the same time meeting the needs of the community at large,” according to the MOVE website.

The Into the Streets project has historically been one of the events of Recently Acquired Tech Students (RATS) week, though in recent years, it has been later in the semester. Bones said that this year, it was again scheduled to be part of RATS week and to remain that way.

Pendleton-Parker was scheduled to deliver some closing remarks, but she was unable to attend. Her remarks were delivered by Bones instead.

As the event is part of RATS week, the event is geared to get new freshmen involved in their new community.

“It serves as their introduction to community service in Atlanta. We want them to really get engaged with something in the Atlanta community,” said Lisa Thornsberry, vice president of projects in MOVE and second-year ChBE major.

“We want them to find something that really fulfills them and lets them get involved in the Atlanta area,” Bones said.

The effort hit home with at least a few freshmen.

“I had a girl approach me after it was over and say, ‘It’s nice to meet other people that care,’” Thornsberry said.

MOVE’s Into the Streets won an award for being the “Best Short-Term Project” at the Up with the White and Gold Awards Ceremony.

The event typically has a large turnout from the President’s Scholars program, as most students in the GT1000 classes associated with the program generally participate. It is by no means limited to them, however.

“It’s open to any freshman at Georgia Tech. We do have upperclassmen, though, who coordinate the projects,” Pendleton-Parker said.

All in all, 170 people took part in the three-hour event.

Bones said she is pleased with the number of participants, as it represents a 70 percent increase over the 101 students in last year’s event.

The freshmen are recruited from several different sources.

Pendleton-Parker said she’s been a housing partner in the past, so she was able to recruit related groups.

Bones said that many residence hall Peer Leaders brought members of their halls, and that she and Thornsberry even joined the Facebook group for the Georgia Tech Class of 2014 to promote the event.

Students interested in getting involved in more of MOVE’s community service events can do so by becoming a tutor for Atlanta schoolkids, joining a committee for an upcoming project or by being a general member and volunteering with events on a case-by-case basis.

Bones said the organizations JacketPages account is also a good point of contact, as the organization’s page is much more active than average.