Three student organizations design projects for SUA competition

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October 25, 2016

12:46 AM

The Haven, the Pre-Vet Club and Project Phoenix, standing side by side in a unique instance of common purpose, welcomed students this week as they enter the Sadler Center. Each organization is working to make changes in the community, and students who walk by will choose which of the organizations will receive more resources to do so.

This week marks the College of William and Mary’s first Impact Week, an initiative from Students for University Advancement (SUA) that combines philanthropy and community service. By donating $5 to the College, students can vote for one of three service projects proposed by students. A $10,000 grant pool will be split into first place ($5,000), second place ($3,000) and third place ($2,000) allotments.

The original pool of $5,000 was doubled after donations from Board of Visitors members Douglas Bunch ’02, J.D. ’06 and James Hixon, J.D. ’79, M.L.T. ’80.

“Impact week is unique in that, by making one action, donating, you make an impact in two different ways,” SUA Chair Jimmy Moore ’18 said.

“Impact week is unique in that, by making one action, donating, you make an impact in two different ways,” SUA Chair Jimmy Moore ’18 said.

The idea came from a similar program at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology that focused on promoting undergraduate philanthropy and supporting student-run service projects that otherwise may not have been possible.

“We can help them receive funding, but at the same time give back to the College,” Assistant Director for Student Philanthropy and Recent Graduate Engagement Lyda Phillips said.

SUA received six proposals for Impact Week. The three finalists, The Haven, Pre-Vet Club and College Partnership for Kids, were selected by a joint committee comprised of members from the Annual Giving Board, the Office of Community Engagement, Student Leadership Development and SUA itself.

Project Phoenix replaced CPK’s spot in the final three after the group elected to withdraw from the event late last week. The groups chosen each carefully planned service projects tailored to their strengths. Now students will vote for one of the projects.

We didn’t ever think we would have an opportunity to do something this big,” Pre-Vet Club Treasurer and volunteer coordinator Jessica Laury ’19 said.

“We didn’t ever think we would have an opportunity to do something this big,” Pre-Vet Club Treasurer and volunteer coordinator Jessica Laury ’19 said.

For her proposal, Laury collaborated with Canine Companions for Independence, a training group for assistance dogs, and K-9 Companions, a local group dedicated to bringing therapy dogs into public spaces. Laury’s project will support resource donations to both groups, a campus seminar on health and wellness hosted Nov. 5 in Trinkle Hall, and a dedicated space for therapy dogs in the forthcoming Integrated Health and Wellness Center.

“We’re pushing for philanthropies that students are passionate about,” Laury said. “Because of the way Impact Week is run, there aren’t any caveats.”

This sentiment was echoed by Haven Advisory Board members Taylor Medley ’17 and Lauren Dybel ’17, whose proposal to renovate the Haven’s physical space includes the acquisition of new furniture, paint, literature and aromatherapy.

“We’ve all had big dreams,” Dybel said. “Impact Week has given us a great opportunity to see if we can bring those dreams to the forefront.”

For Medley and Dybel, the active engagement with the student body made Impact Week a natural route for The Haven.

“We want community feedback,” Medley said. “Everyone has input for what the space becomes.”

By bringing community service groups to the center of undergraduate philanthropy, SUA hopes to create an environment where donations and energy are entirely directed by the student body.

“The best thing about Impact Week is it requires the students to really advocate,” Dybel said. “This is a student-led program.”

Project Phoenix’s Big Trip program has been a staple of the organization, though its execution has not always been easy. According to project proposer and former Project Phoenix tutor coordinator Jasmin Cruz ’17, Impact Week will help the annual daylong retreat for local middle school students increase in scope.

“We tend to work with a very small budget,” Cruz said. “Most of the time we try to solicit local businesses.”

Impact Week is helping Project Phoenix remove these hurdles, expanding the potential for the program, which assembles students from Hornsby, Berkeley and Toano Middle Schools for a full day of games and activities away from Williamsburg.

“I love this program very much,” Cruz said. “The trip will [now] be bigger, better and easier on both sides.”

With Impact Week starting, these three finalists’ work will be presented to the campus.

“You really get to make double the impact,” Moore said. “This is going to be a great beginning cornerstone.”

10/28/2016 3:56 p.m. An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to SUA as Students for Undergraduate Advancement.

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