By George Inglis
Since 2008, GDBBS Involved in Volunteerism at Emory (GIVE) has gathered graduate students, faculty and staff across disciplines in the life sciences to “give” back to the Atlanta community. Our volunteers belong to any of the eight GDBBS programs, regardless of their class year, and we always welcome a helping hand, even if just for an hour or two. Generally, GIVE schedules 1-2 service projects each month at specific charities or service organizations in the metro Atlanta area. In our nearly 10 years of volunteerism, our biggest annual event has been GIVE Day: a morning of service at multiple sites across the city. Keeping with tradition, on Saturday, April 29th, we hosted volunteers at three sites: Trees Atlanta, Fernbank Science Center, and Project Open Hand.
One group of students, led by Vice-President Rachel Turn from BCDB, volunteered with Trees Atlanta to help restore the natural habitat of Hampton Beecher Park. Over the years, invasive plant species have taken over much of the ground covering of the forest, threatening to shift the natural balance of the ecosystem. Previous teams successfully eradicated some of these invasive plants, and it was our team's job to begin habitat restoration. We planted over 624 ferns, representing a variety of different species. This was truly a rewarding experience, and we the volunteers are excited to see their impact as the ecosystem grows in the years ahead. Trees Atlanta hosts restoration projects almost every weekend, so there is always an opportunity to help maintain Atlanta’s green spaces. For more details, visit their website at https://treesatlanta.org/.
Our Treasurer, Binta Jalloh, led a second group to the Fernbank Science Center (not to be confused with the Natural History Museum), one of GIVE’s oldest collaborators. Over the years (and GIVE Days), we have helped build exhibits in their educational garden and maintained the grounds. This year we prepared the garden for a bloom-heavy summer by laying down a new layer of mulch and planting assorted flower bulbs. It was fantastic to make another contribution to this center and see how our efforts have transformed the green space over the years. Fernbank Science Center is open Monday through Saturday each week, so please come out to see our hard work and some fantastic science exhibits! For more details, visit their website at http://www.fernbank.edu/.
Our final group of GIVE volunteers went to Project Open Hand, an organization dedicated to making sure that seniors and citizens with chronic disease will always have access to proper nutrition and meals. By partnering with local volunteers and Meals on Wheels, they prepare nearly 5,500 meals each day for citizens across the Metro Atlanta area. While our volunteer projects in the past have involved preparing these food donations, this year a group of six volunteers fought the I-85 traffic to deliver these meals all over the city, ensuring those in need would receive their food. In some cases, we are the only guests that these citizens see each day, so it was our pleasure to deliver food with a smile and interact with them. If packaging food or delivering meals sounds like something you are interested in, Project Open Hand is always looking for help! For more details, please visit their website at: http://www.projectopenhand.org/s-vol-opportunitites.asp.
All in all, we had over 25 volunteers come together to pull off another successful GIVE Day, and we’re excited to keep this tradition of service going for years to come. If you have any questions about GIVE or how to get involved, please contact any member of our executive board for more details:
President: George Inglis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Vice-President: Rachel Turn (email@example.com)
Treasurer: Binta Jalloh (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Secretary: Eduardo Gigante (email@example.com)