Courtney Hunter, the Planning Committee Chairperson said, "Black Heritage Month is different this year because we are focusing on the African American community's heritage as a whole instead of just our history. This month will not only be a celebration of our past but a celebration of the wonderful plans we have for the future. There are several new events that will give students numerous opportunities to learn about the African American culture… The committee's vision was to make 2015 the best Black Heritage Month yet, and I believe that it is."
To kick off their celebration of Black Heritage Month 2015, many UTSA students participated in San Antonio's annual Martin Luther King March on January 19th. The planning committee is also hosting a series of events throughout the month including the following.
Do not miss out on UTSA's 2015 Black Heritage Month celebrations!
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UTSA students and staff volunteered with Isaiah's Place during winter break
While most students were still enjoying their winter break on January 5, a group of UTSA students and a staff member met up on campus at 5AM to embark on UTSA's very first Alternative Winter Break (AWB) experience in Whitney, Texas.
Seven students and one staff member traveled to Isaiah's Place, a one of a kind educational retreat facility focused on enriching the lives of the deaf community. The facility was founded by the Executive Director, Diane Frederickson. Diane is the only staff member IP has on site to run the facility. During the week the group volunteered with daily household chores in the lodge, groomed and fed the facilities horses, performed yard work, and created decorative crafts to brighten the facility for special events. The tasks completed over the 4 days would have taken much longer if Diane had to do them by herself. During their week of service, the participants learned basic sign language as well some statistics about the deaf community.
"It was very impactful learning about the deaf community. I was astonished to learn that only two percent of fathers communicate with their deaf children. This trip really made me want to peruse an educational background in sign language as well as volunteer with them again during the summer,"
said Myrna Rangel, the student leader for the trip.
A highlight of the trip was meeting one of the camp participants via Skype and communicating with her using the signs the participants had learned during their stay.
The trip was sponsored by the Student Center for Community Engagement and Inclusion and the Volunteer Organization Involving Community Education and Service (VOICES). The students raised money for their trip by partnering with Launch UTSA, a crowdfunding website that helps UTSA students, faculty and staff raise money for university projects and research. AWB surpassed their goal and raised more than $2,000, which covered travel, meals, and housing expenses and allowed the participation fee to remain minimal.
To learn more about Isaiah's Place and their mission, please visit their website. To learn more about Alternative Breaks or how to get involved in the San Antonio community, please contact Volunteer Services at email@example.com.
The River City Chapter of the Top Ladies of the Distinction, Inc. recently honored Courtney Hunter and the Volunteer Organization Involving Community Education and Service at their "Trendsetters Paving the Way in Our Community" recognition event.
VOICES and Ms. Hunter were nominated specifically for the Community Beautification Award because of their annual event, Extreme Makeover: UTSA. This annual event engages UTSA students to participate in a range of projects to help beautify the UTSA Main Campus in the Fall semester.
Lady Pearl Conyers, Chairperson for the Trendsetters Luncheon stated,
"VOICES, in their ongoing dedication and commitment to the beauty of UTSA Main Campus is one of the main reason why the UTSA campus is a safe, inviting and comfortable environment."
The Volunteer Organization Involving Community Education and Service (VOICES) was founded at the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1993 by 4 UTSA students dedicated to creating an organization that would foster the 4 principals that VOICES was founded on: Service, Education, Leadership, and Teamwork. In their 21 years at UTSA, VOICES has had many accomplishments; last year alone they completed 240 projects and worked with 70 non-profit agencies with a total of 9,278 total service hours. This year they have set their goal of accomplishing 10,000 volunteer service hours! Courtney Hunter, current President of VOICES, has been a member of VOICES since 2011 and has held multiple officer positions within the organization. She is now leading their organization towards their most successful year yet!