In 1994 when the GIVE Center became part of Georgia College’s campus, director Kendall Stiles never realized the impact the organization would have on the community, but numbers don’t lie.
While going over data for the GIVE Center, Paul Sedor, assistant director, came across a milestone for the program. Over an 18-year span, students, faculty, staff and GC alumni involved in the GIVE center have performed and tracked volunteer hours equivalent to saving the community $10 million.
The volunteer hours were tracked on an access database that calculates money saved when volunteer hours are entered.
“We could not have reached the mark without the many partnerships we’ve developed throughout the community and the students and faculty who give their time to volunteer,” Stiles said.
Out of the several agencies that work with the GIVE Center the top five in most volunteer hours and total savings are Young Life, 53,209 hours, $1,121,238 in savings; Big Brothers Big Sisters, 35,729 hours, $683,164 in savings; Children’s Miracle Network, 23,257 hours, $511,482 in savings; AmeriCorps, 22,339 hours, $479,107 in savings; and Oconee Regional Medical Center, 23,236 hours, $469, 994 in savings.
Stiles added that the newest and strongest partnership is with Communities In Schools with the Whatever It Takes Campaign.
“The campaign was created to help support our local public schools. We are hoping to work with other areas and communities to recreate what we are doing here in our community that is so successful.”
The volunteer organization has grown and expanded through the years. When it began, the GIVE center was run out of a classroom-sized office with Stiles and one volunteer. Today the program has a student staff of approximately 30 and between 2,000 and 2,500 student volunteers a year.
According to Stiles, the GIVE Center is the second largest activity on campus for students. Members of fraternities and sororities are the largest contributors of volunteer hours each year.
“The students are the ones who run this program,” said Stiles. “I just drive the ship.”
Loren Ranson, a senior psychology major, has been working as a volunteer manager at the GIVE Center for three years.
“It first started out as just a job but it quickly became much more than that to me,” she said.
Ranson processes paperwork for volunteers and tries to match them with the right volunteer agency.
“When you sit down with them and find out what they’re interest are, it’s nice to see that the agency you’ve put them in contact with becomes a home away from home for them,” she said.
Juniors Megan Murphy and David Dietz both agree.
“The connection with our community partners has let me realize just how many people in Milledgeville really care and broadened my perspective on how many people here want to help,” said Murphy.
Dietz, who has spent a majority of his life volunteering and giving back as an Eagle Scout, said he enjoys being part of a program that opens doors for people who like to help.
“Seeing all the doors that get open for other people who like to give back like me is a really good feeling,” he said. “It lets you know you’re part of a continuing process in the community.”
As the center continues to provide volunteer work past their $10 million milestone, Stiles would like to open doors to new ventures.
“One of a new endeavors is to develop a collegiate chapter of Special Olympics called Bobcat Special Olympics. Our hope is to host a statewide tournament for Bocce Ball. This would be a collaboration with the Life Enrichment Center.”