Service and Community Engagement

The Office of Student Organizations and Activities offers students at the University of Kentucky a wide variety of ways to get involved and to give back to all our communities. Service and Community Engagement within SOA strives to center the importance of interacting with our communities in meaningful ways by creating opportunities for direct service, education, and reflection. 

 

Opportunities facilitated by Service and Community Engagement include things like Alternative Service Breaks (ASB), Mystery Service Saturdays (MSS), Circle of Love, MLK Day of Service, Adopt-A-Grandparent, access to our student volunteer advisors, and programming throughout the academic year that highlights social and human issues that exist in Lexington, Kentucky and beyond. All students at the university are welcome to participate in our events and programming.

 
 

Programs: 

  • Alternative Service Breaks (ASB)
  • Adopt a Grandparent
  • Annual Service Events (Fusion, MLK Day of Service, etc.)
  • Circle of Love
  • Mystery Service Saturdays 
  • Wildcat Service Network 
  • Volunteer Advisors 

 

Alternative Service Breaks: 

Alternative Service Breaks (ASB) is a student organization at the University of Kentucky that aims to bring students from members of their community to active citizens through high-quality service immersion opportunities in Kentucky, across the United States, and around the world. Alternative Service Breaks is affiliated with Break Away, a national organization that provides curriculum and a network with over 100 affiliated schools and more than 400 community-based organizations. With so many different issues to focus on and locations to travel to, students are sure to find the right alternative service break experience for them. Regardless of which service trip a student chooses, they are guaranteed to come away from the experience with new connections, new knowledge, a renewed sense of self, and a renewed desire to serve. Involvement in UK ASB does not begin and end with service trips. Rather, it extends throughout the academic year with orientation sessions, educational programs, service projects, fundraising events, and of course a reunion gathering! This group expects that UK ASB volunteers make a full-year commitment to participating in UK ASB, and challenge volunteers to extend their commitment to the community service beyond their participation in UK ASB. ASB’s goal is to build future leaders that are active, conscientious citizens. For more information on Alternative Service Breaks at the University of Kentucky, please contact them at alternativebreaks@ukcco.org.

 

Adopt-A-Grandparent: 

Volunteer virtually by calling an elder once a week on the phone. We have partnered with HomeInstead to offer a pen-pal program for students and elder community members that would benefit from talking to a buddy once a week. For more information, contact Elizabeth Harris-Medina at elizabeth.harrismedina@uky.edu.

 

Mystery Service Saturdays: 

Mystery Service Saturdays (MSS) are a new initiative from Service & Community Engagement in the Office of Student Organizations and Activities, and we're so excited to introduce them to you! These events will consist of two main parts & transportation is provided: 

  • Education, Direct Service, and Reflection with a nonprofit organization in the Lexington, KY area 
  • A social component that, for this particular MSS occurrence, will include FOOD! 

Our goal for these events is to introduce UK students to a new, surprise community partner, and to engage in education/reflection and direct service around a particular social issue. Participants will not know the name of the organization or what the site of the social event is until the day of service. 

So, why the secret? When you sign up to volunteer, do you find yourself gravitating toward the same type of volunteer work? How often do you branch out and try something new while volunteering? Do you have any specific ideas around what it would look like to volunteer at a shelter for folks experiencing houselessness that might make you reluctant to go? Or maybe serving dinner at a community kitchen? Or a river/park clean up? We want to eliminate those preconceived notions and expectations around what service looks like to you by obscuring the actual service work and focusing on engaging with the community, no matter what it looks like. We hope that through this program you get to have new experiences, learn new skills, and engage with parts of the Lexington community that you may not have chosen to. We want you to meet new people, try new things, and grow new passions. Though our goal to keep these events as mysterious as possible, we also want them to be as accessible as possible! That said, if you are thinking about registering and would like to have more information in advance, please reach out to us at volunteerUK@uky.edu and we're happy to share the details of the event and location. 

 

Wildcat Service Network:

In an effort to best support our students who want to engage in service, we hope to connect with those students who are currently and successfully serving and recruiting others to serve in the community: Service-based RSOs! The goal of the Wildcat Service Network is to connect current Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) who focus on service, advocacy, philanthropy, and/or civic engagement to one another. From there, we will create a community/platform where they can share resources, advice, and experiences to bolster one another in the work that they do individually (and maybe eventually, in partnership with one another). This network is designed to help these student leaders develop meaningful skills that they will be able to transfer to their lives beyond the University of Kentucky. We will do this by providing additional educational resources and consultations from full-time staff in the Office of Student Organizations and Activities in regard to the students' work in the community and with the development of their RSOs. Are you part of an RSO that you think would be a good fit with the Wildcat Service Network? Reach out to us at volunteerUK@uky.edu to ask about how your group can join! 

 

Volunteer Advisors: 

Service and Community Engagement is excited to announce the newest student leadership position in the Office of Student Orgs and Activities: Volunteer Advisors! The Volunteer Advisor position was created as a way to begin bridging the gap between students at the University of Kentucky and the numerous community groups/nonprofits/agencies that call Lexington/Fayette county home. Our hope is that UK students will seek out their Volunteer Advisor peers to learn more about how they can get involved in the Lexington community, and how they can start to identify different causes, campaigns, or movements that they are passionate about. Via one-on-one or group meetings (based on student preference), Volunteer Advisors will meet with students to talk with them about their current interests and passions, as well as what sort of commitments they’re willing to make. This way, the Volunteer Advisors are able to make suggestions of volunteer and service activities that meet both the needs of the student and the community partners. Based on the type of activity students are seeking, Volunteer Advisors may suggest joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO), signing up for an existing volunteer program with a specific community partner, or having the student reach out to a community partner to inquire about specific needs or projects that the student is interested in. Volunteer Advisors will begin meeting with students around mid-September in the fall 2020 semester and will continue meeting with students both virtually and in-person until the end of the academic year. If you would like more information about Volunteer Advisors and how to make an appointment to meet with one, please reach out to us at volunteerUK@uky.edu.