In honor of National Volunteer Month in April, nearly 500 members of the UMGC community here at home and around the world rolled up their sleeves to make a positive impact for others.
This year marked the inaugural UMGC Global Give initiative, during which alumni, students, faculty and staff around the world were invited to use their skills and education to benefit the greater good.
“Global Give is really about empowering members of the UMGC family to foster a greater sense of community, wherever they live,” says Nikki Sandoval, associate vice president of Institutional Advancement. “We were blown away by the generosity and community spirit of those who participated in this event. Together, they volunteered more than 5,000 hours to make a positive impact in their communities.”
The impact at home
UMGC community members from 34 states participated in UMGC Global Give. They found a wide range of volunteer opportunities through UMGC’s alumni website, volunteermatch.org, the Engage website, Feeding America and local government websites. The types of volunteer activities that the global UMGC communities participated in throughout April primarily supported clean up, food insecurities, career, and education.
“We also shared tips on how to make an impact on someone’s professional journey through career mentorship and on their education through scholarship support,” adds Sandoval.
In Maryland, members of the UMGC community collaborated with the Rock Creek Conservancy to help clean Rock Creek Park, a federal urban park. The activity is part of the Annual Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup, a month-long push to remove litter throughout the Rock Creek watershed.
“It was truly gratifying to see the immediate impact of our cleanup efforts,” says Sandoval. “Members of UMGC’s Environmental Awareness Club were also on hand to provide information about the environment with participants, which added an educational element to the day.”
Additionally, members of the UMGC community volunteered their time and talents participating in events outside of Maryland too. These events had significant impact in the communities in which they live and work.
“Volunteering at the Food Bank of the Rockies showcases my dedication to community service and social responsibility, which are highly respected values by the U.S. Air Force and UMGC,” says UMGC Colorado Springs alumna Jen Hegmann ‘18, ‘22. "Moreover, volunteering has enabled me to cultivate crucial abilities like teamwork, problem-solving, and communication that have proven beneficial in both my personal and professional life.”
The impact abroad
In addition to the U.S., world-wide UMGC students, alumni, faculty and staff from five countries pitched in to make a difference around the globe.
On Aug. 5, those in Europe will have another opportunity to participate at a joint event held with the Kaiserslautern Kindergrave Memorial Foundation.
On this special day, members of the UMGC Europe community will tend to the garden and grounds of the American graveside at Kaiserslautern’s main cemetery in Germany. This important historical site is maintained solely by volunteers, and we’re grateful to be able to care for the place where 451 American infants were buried between 1952 and 1971.
For the last few years, Michael Mulvey, PhD, associate professor of history and overseas collegiate faculty, has spearheaded this joint event with support from local UMGC volunteers, Ramstein Area Chief’s Group (U.S. Air Force E-9s), the German-American International Women’s Club and the U.S. Army Command Sergeants Majors Association.
“We’re proud to come together to care for this symbol of American-German friendship,” Mulvey says.
Extending our reach through Giving Day
To round out the first-ever UMGC Global Give, the university also hosted a Giving Day where members of the community were able to provide financial support to UMGC students to help them achieve their education goals. During Giving Day 2023, generous UMGC community members donated a total of $25,424, which will go toward scholarships to help deserving students succeed.
In the end, UMGC’s community-boosting efforts were a great success, which is a testament to the strength and pride of students, alumni, faculty and staff.
“I’m truly humbled by the response we had to UMGC Global Give and Giving Day, and I’m looking forward to making it an annual tradition which strengthens our community giving back through their skills and education to help others. This is an extension of our mission showcasing education to transform lives, families, communities, and our world,” said Sandoval.