Written by Isabella Legarza, former MSU Women’s Volleyball player and current Athletes for Hope intern.
As we continue to move forward in this ever-changing world, a pandemic isn’t going to stop Michigan State Spartans from participating in community service. Since the fall, student-athletes have been under extreme COVID-19 protocols in order to compete in their respected sport. In honor of National Nutrition Month, Michigan State Student-Athletes teamed up with Athletes for Hope and Feeding America to provide meals for those in need in the Greater Lansing area.
After brainstorming COVID-safe service opportunities, Athletes for Hope presented a “Contact-less Food Donation Drive.” The Contact-less Food Drive provided multiple ways of involvement. Spartans were encouraged to collect non- perishables, where an AFH intern would be notified where and when to pick up the donations and drop them off at the Food Bank – keeping this COVID-safe. Another option was to encourage donations as low as $1; for every $1 donated 10 meals were provided in the Greater Lansing Area.
As the National Nutrition Month comes to an end, we are excited to report the great work that has been done. Over 8,000 meals will be provided to the Greater Lansing community. We are so proud of the Spartan participation. Together, we can connect, raise awareness and inspire those around us.
Athletes for Hope (AFH) was honored at East Baton Rouge School Board’s February meeting in recognition of the AFH University program’s dedication to students in the community. During the fall semester, student athletes from Southern and LSU provided story time and fitness videos in partnership with Volunteers in Public Schools that was shared with schools throughout the city.
“We wanted to acknowledge Athletes for Hope this month for their contribution of exercise videos and story times that teachers can use with their in-person and virtual students. It is important that children stay active and continue to read. With these videos, our hope is that they are motivated and see that staying healthy by exercising their minds and their bodies is important. It is also important for them to see collegiate volunteers showing their support and encouraging them to take care of themselves, and hopefully inspire them to pursue higher education.” -Kaia Simmons, VIPS Volunteer and Community Partners Director
“It was an honor to represent Athletes for Hope at the East Baton Rouge School Board meeting. Even though we have been limited with in-person service, through Volunteers In Public Schools we have been able to continue teaching, connecting, and inspiring the youth virtually this year. I can’t wait to see how we can reach our schools in other creative ways this semester.” -Aubrion James, Southern Softball and AFH Intern
Learn more about AFH University programming here.
On May 11, 2020, Athletes for Hope University launched the voting campaign for its second annual National AFH U Student-Athlete and Team of the Year Awards. The goal of the national awards is to recognize individual student-athletes and teams for their dedication to volunteering and serving with their communities. During the 2019-20 school year, four student-athletes and four teams from AFH U sites across the U.S. were nominated through monthly nominations.
After two weeks of online voting and social media promotion, the national voting campaign received 4,578 votes.
We are so proud to announce LSU Volleyball’s Sydney Mukes as the AFH U Student-Athlete of the Year and Southern Women’s Soccer as the AFH U Team of the Year!
Sydney played an integral role in the service nature of the LSU Volleyball team and made a lasting impact at Glasgow Middle School in Baton Rouge.
“Sydney gives her heart and soul to everything she does,” said Fran Flory, the head coach of the LSU Tigers indoor volleyball team. “She loves helping others most and making a positive difference in their lives. Her involvement in our community, especially Glasgow Middle School reflects that commitment. She makes others around her better.”
The Southern Women’s Soccer team embodied service and showed a strong commitment to giving back by showing up in large numbers at events. At the time of their nomination, they had most recently volunteered for the Susan G Komen’s Race for the Cure and cheered on survivors at the finish line.
Both Sydney and the LSU Volleyball team and the Southern Women’s Soccer team worked collaboratively to make an impact in the Baton Rouge community. We are very thankful for their commitment to service and are proud to award them this recognition!
Today is National Student-Athlete Day across the US and while we are all facing a national pandemic, we wanted to honor and recognize the tremendous efforts of so many of our AFH University (AFH U) from the past year.
We believe student-athletes are the best role models for kids and communities as they excel in the classroom and in their respective sports. We’ve seen the impact that thousands of student-athletes can have on communities when they step away from their sport and volunteer their time with others.
We see student-athletes who were competing in their respective sports, balancing heavy course loads, and giving back to communities through coordinated service. We know they are incredible leaders on campus and will continue to do wonderful things as the world continues to evolve.
Here are a few tremendous examples that we have seen of AFH U student-athletes in communities this past year: http://www.athletesforhope.org/2019/12/lsu-volleyball-donates-books-to-baton-rouge-schools/
MSU Tennis attending local elementary school to promote health and fitness:
OSU Women’s Hockey and OSU Cross Country volunteered regularly at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH and with partners Girls on the Run and Marathon Kids.
Even alumni got into the giving spirit with AFH U Alumni Robinson Mateo from Southern University Baseball and his team helping others in Dominican Republic.
We’ve provided monthly AFH U Student-Athlete and Team of the Month awards and have recognized individuals and teams who continue to go above and beyond in service each month. We’ll have one more month of recognition and then in May announce our national student-athletes and teams of the year campaign for YOU to vote! We hope you will give back and honor those who were out serving others in communities or now in the virtual space helping others and giving back.
We are so grateful to the thousands of student-athletes who give back their time, talent and energy to outside of sports to help others and are humbled by their generosity and compassion. We can’t wait to see you all again on campuses and in communities soon.
Doing something this month to recognize student-athletes? Working on virtual volunteering while at home? Share it with us here and we’ll post it as well or tag us on social media and we’ll RT and share! @athletesforhope
by Kenya Warren-Hollis, MPA
On Friday, December 6th, seniors of the LSU Volleyball team presented over 300 books to Glasgow Middle School and Buchanon Elementary. This presentation was the culmination of their senior philanthropy project “ Roaring for Reading” a book drive held on their campus.
What inspired Roaring for Reading?
Roar for Reading came from our own love for books and the impact that they have on us growing up. As children, we adored the stories and the lessons that came from them. Reading not only gives entertainment, but it gives stepping stones to being a better student! -Milan Stokes
How has Athletes for Hope influenced your commitment to service?
Athletes for Hope has shown me how rewarding community service can be. They have provided us with many engaging and exciting opportunities that allowed us to give back to the community that has continuously supported us as LSU athletes. Athletes for Hope has shown me the importance of service and I will continue to participate in service throughout my life. -Anna Zwiebel
What impact do you hope to leave in the Baton Rouge community?
I hope that our Roar for Reading project allows more students in the Baton Rouge community to engage in the gift of reading. The Baton Rouge community has done a tremendous job supporting the athletes and through service we’re able to give back to the community. I hope that these books foster a desire for continual learning and put a smile on young students faces. -Sydney Mukes
This past 2018-2019 school year has been the most successful year of AFH University (AFH U) to date! AFH U continues to grow exponentially in both student-athletes involved in service and the hours they volunteer. This year, we had 2,527 student-athletes* complete 7,608 hours of service across the AFH U campuses! This means that AFH U student-athletes donated $193,471 worth of service to the organizations and causes they care about, lifting up their local communities. This incredible progress is due to the hard work and dedication of our AFH and AFH U staff, liaisons, and all the student-athletes we work to connect to service. AFH U continues to emphasize measurement and evaluation, find improved ways to utilize technology, and expand and modify our curriculum to best serve the needs of student-athletes.
This year, we were proud to have Georgetown University and UCLA joined the AFH U Team. AFH U facilitated 18 workshops this year, reaching 51 sports teams across the eight (8) campuses. Last year we met with multiple Student Athlete Advisory Councils (SAACs) to help develop the AFH U strategic plan. This year, we have worked to implement and utilize it as a guidepost for goals, objectives, and outcomes. This strategic plan helps serve as a guide to our work with student-athlete, university staff and community partner input as crucial resources along the way.
While AFH U expanded the number of universities that we work with, we also worked to deepen the relationships we hold with our existing universities, student leaders, and community partners. 90% of AFH U community visits this year were with repeat community partners and sites! 45 out of the 61 community partners had repeat visits this year. Athletes are doing service in larger groups, for longer periods of time, and are often returning to groups they have worked with in the past. Organizations are asking for regular volunteer hours, consistency among student-athletes and activities, and for clear communication about expectations. All of this great feedback deepens our students’ relationships with the organizations and schools they volunteered for and helps us create a stronger program for student-athletes, community partners, universities and communities who benefit by having student-athletes as volunteers.
For more information about AFH U’s impact in 2018-2019, please see the infographic below.
* duplicated number