Push for Community Service at STC Culminates in New Home
December 6, 2012 - Students, faculty, and staff from Southeastern Technical College typically see their work come to fruition as papers: diplomas, certifications, and grants. Their latest work is a little different. It has an address and a roof.
Student and staff volunteers from the Vidalia campus of STC spent several weekends in September and October helping Habitat for Humanity to build a house that is now nearing completion.
Southeastern Tech's involvement came as a result of an initiative from VP for Student Affairs Dr. Barry Dotson to increase community service activities in student organizations.
"He assigned a team to work with the clubs on this project: myself and [Director of Career Services] Lance Helms," said Helen Thomas, special needs specialist at STC. "I asked [Director of Marketing & PR] Krysta Rushing to join the team, because we needed her expertise on PR and getting the word out to the students. I like to call us the Student Activities Team."
The team offered incentives for the school's clubs to collect donations and raise money for various causes, but Dotson had more in mind for the groups.
"Although the fundraising was a worthy and necessary activity, he wanted the students to get more involved in meeting the needs of the community: something that would give the students a meaningful experience and a better understanding of the importance of giving back to the community," said Thomas.
After pursuing several options, the Student Activities Team discovered the Habitat build already had a connection to the school. Gray Meredith, of Meredith Industries, is a project manager for the house and was a member of a Leadership Toombs-Montgomery class with Kathryn Smith, Southeastern Tech's high school coordinator.
Helms contacted Meredith and began gauging student interest in the project.
"Everyone was ready to work," said Helms. "Gray Meredith is leading a very organized project, so it actually didn't take very long at all to get the scheduled dates for our students to participate."
So, for four weekends, members of Southeastern Tech's Student Leadership Council, International Association of Administrative Professionals, SkillsUSA, and Phi Beta Lambda groups along with students and faculty from the school's Automotive, Dental Hygiene, Radiologic Technology, and Surgical Technology programs helped to build a house.
The volunteers painted the foundation, packed in insulation, hung drywall and siding, and more. Though they didn't have a great deal of experience, Southeastern Tech's amateur builders felt confident in their work and encourage others to volunteer with Habitat as well.
"The great thing is, you don't have to be a building expert or handyman," said Helms. "Most people think, 'I'm not going because I don't know anything about that kind of stuff,'" said Helms. "Well, that might be true, but they'll teach you."
STC's Student Activities Team is eager to help again, encouraging those undertaking community projects to contact them. The team hopes to not just improve its community, but to offer more students the kind of experience one Habitat volunteer related.
"As it turned out, one of my students lived in a Habitat house and told of their experience and appreciation to those that do this kind of work," said Deborah Smith, an instructor for Southeastern Tech's Surgical Technology program. "She also expressed her desire to help others as her family was helped.
"As the students embark on their new careers, this experience is one from which they can reap the rewards for years to come."
For more information on Southeastern Technical College or the STC Student Activities team, call (912) 538-3100 or (478) 289-2200 or visit www.southeasterntech.edu.