'UC Serves' day spreads goodwill 

Faculty and staff volunteers left the comforts of campus in record numbers sharing their brawn, spirit and sweat for a full day of community outreach.

By Melanie Schefft

May 10, 2016

With the last weed pulled, the final garden planted and many local school kids exhausted from a fun-filled day, UC faculty and staff volunteers went home tired but full of memories from another packed day of community service in the Greater Cincinnati area around UC’s campuses.
As part of the annual UC Serves initiative begun by the University of Cincinnati in 2014, volunteers spent the day on Friday, May 6, providing more than 2,000 collective service hours giving back to their community at over 43 projects for several local not-for-profit organizations across the region.
In the last three years UC Serves has grown from 100 faculty and staff volunteers to over 350 volunteers this year. And as far north as Loveland, Ohio, to as far south as Florence, Kentucky, UC volunteers sharpened their skills helping out at facilities that included the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Freestore Foodbank, Granny's Garden, Friends of the Public Library and Habitat for Humanity.
Faculty and staff from all the colleges including UC Blue Ash and Clermont campuses gathered in matching T-shirts early in the morning. After forming teams they went out to clean landscape beds in local parks, paint walls in community centers, create crafts with local school children and help plant the Concord Street Community Garden for the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation –– complete with beehives, snakes and the occasional wild animal onlooker.



But at the end of the day, the sore muscles and sweat were worth the efforts as the volunteers looked around at charming communities, happy kids and well-fed folks at a local soup kitchen.
“I don’t know what we would do without our volunteers who help serve, stock food trays and lend a comfortable ear for our local clients,” says Kathy Schickel, director of operations at Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen in Over-the-Rhine. “When the UC Serves folks come in each year to help out, our clients tend to stay all day and really enjoy the added fun and excitement.”
In support of the event, UC collected $11,000 of in-kind donations from local businesses, which included paint, supplies and food and gifts for the volunteers from local caterers.
With supplies in hand, another team of UC red shirts were busy painting walls and spring-cleaning at the Ronald McDonald House. And along McMillan Street and Gilbert Avenue in Walnut Hills crews of UC garden gnomes pulled weeds, planted perennials in the medians and cut wild bushes from along the sides of the road.
“I like the smell of fresh air and getting dirt under my fingernails, especially when I see how our efforts help beautify these parks,” says Mary Norwood, an associate in UC Governmental Relations, about planting flowers in the Green Man Park along McMillan. "This is so much fun because we really have such a wonderful group of volunteers to work with."

woman hands a man a plate of food across the counter at a local soup kitchen.
Two women dig and plant in a raised garden bed in a local garden.
UC vice president Greg Vehr sits with three women judging costumes at an elementary school parade.
A baby racoon is curled up and looking at camera lying between two flats of young garden-ready plants
Two women carry long-handled tools inside a tool barn.
Two women plant vegetables in a raised garden bed inside a local community garden.

UC Serves volunteers helped out at more than 43 not-for-profit organizations around town. photos/Joseph Fuqua II


In the northern suburb of Mt. Healthy, eight UC women joined the Women Build 2016 group to hone their carpentry skills for Habitat for Humanity. As those walls were going up, colorful graffiti walls were wiped down as 15 UC staff performed clean up for Keep Cincinnati Beautiful along Clifton Avenue.
UC’s Eric Abercrumbie, director of diversity and community outreach for the division of Student affairs, was among the volunteers who enjoyed building volcanoes with second grade students at an elementary school in O’Bryonville.
“I love when the volunteers come to our school,” says Marie Dornbusch, second grade teacher at the Academy of World Languages Elementary School. “It gives each kid here that one-on-one cooperation and interaction that they love. The kids are so bright and they really enjoy the creative projects our volunteers bring.”
“All in all, the event lifts the spirits of not only the community and local organizations, but the faculty and staff who carry the warm afterglow of making new friends and building a few new muscles,” says Michela Buccini, academic advisor at UC Blue Ash College and one of the organizers of the event.
UC Serves reflects the university’s commitment to enhancing our community through service, aligning with President Santa J. Ono’s Creating Our Third Century Initiative and Just Community Principles.
UC Serves is organized by UC's Emerging Leaders in Student Affairs. For more information, contact Michela Buccini at 513-936-1537, michela.buccini@uc.edu, Fran Larkin at 513-556-1503, fran.larkin@uc.edu; or go to UC Serves.


A woman and two school boys sit at a table and build volcanoes together out of paper and glue.
Two women and a school boy sit at a table building volcanoes out of paper and glue.
Three women stand at table with school children creating volcanoes out of paper and glue.
A man sits at a table with a young schoolgirl making volcanoes out of paper and glue.
A woman kneels down pulling weeds from a landscape bed along a sidewalk.
A woman reaches up into a bin of blue long-handled tools.
Two men carry long boards inside a tool barn.
Two women serve food to a man from across a food counter at a local soup kitchen.
Three women dig and pour dirt from a wheelbarrel into a raised garden bed in a local community garden.
Three women dig dirt with shovels and a rake inside a raised garden bed in a local community garden.
Men and women bent down pulling weeds and dead bushes from a median along Gilbert Avenue.


More about past UC Serves events 

UC Gives Back in a Big Way Across Greater Cincinnati  
Nearly 300 UC staff and faculty members volunteered in neighboring communities as part of UC Serves, an all-day service event.

UC Staff, Faculty Give Back to Neighboring Communities
Teams of UC staff and faculty volunteered with more than 10 nonprofit groups as part of UC Serves, an all-day service event.

Highlights Including Employee Feedback
UC Serves is more than a day of community service, it provides a way for faculty and staff to become involved and connected, not just with their colleagues, but with the broader UC Community.