Springfest teams earn extra points through volunteer work
Last week marked the start and the end of the 21st annual Springfest tradition at UIS. Over the duration of the week, 29 teams spent hours participating in events on campus, ranging from sports to trivia, to gain points for their team. In addition to the regular events, teams had a chance to gain extra points through volunteering.
Teams volunteered time to transform five homes within the community in the largest single service project hosted by UIS two years in a row.
A major part of Springfest over the past two years has been a volunteering project. Last year, participants came together to plant over 3,500 trees. This year, the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center (VCEC) decided to work with the Habitat for Humanity program “A Brush with Kindness.”
According to Mark Dochterman, the director of the VCEC, this project was chosen because it is a good introduction to service projects. Individuals who participated in Springfest came from different degrees of volunteer experience. This project allowed for individuals to see what their hard work has accomplished and provided an immediate reward.
“A Brush with Kindness” is a program that helps low-income families by renovating and repairing their homes, as stated on its website. In doing so, these families can live in a safe and well-maintained home within their community, and the neighborhoods are refreshed and revitalized.
Homeowners must apply for the program and meet certain criteria in order to be chosen for this program. Many individuals have reasons that they cannot do the work themselves because of disabilities or financial issues.
The homeowners must pay for the materials through a zero-percent interest loan and must partake in hours of service through Habitat for Humanity.
This year, the 29 teams had around 200 representatives working diligently on scraping, painting and landscaping the different sites within the Springfield community. Some individuals even took part in the tearing down of a garage that was deemed unsafe.
The participants were sent to five different sites over the course of the week, located around Laurel and 16th street on the east side of town.
Team members were given eight different time slots between Monday and Friday to choose from. Unfortunately, due to the rain, participants that were signed up to help out on Tuesday were unable to partake. They did receive points regardless.
Dochterman said there were two different things that came up after the participants finished their shift within the service project.
First, many said it was nice that UIS was doing something that was benefiting the community. No matter who wins the competition, there was some good deed that came out of it.
“After a lifetime of people helping me and my family in our times of need, it was nice to finally help someone out and give back. It was a rewarding experience,” said Angelina Russo, freshman criminal justice and legal studies major.
Second, Dochterman said many individuals enjoyed winning and competing over the course of the week, but it was nice to work with other members from other teams and meet new people.
As an incentive to get team members involved, the committee offered additional points to the teams overall score. If all members from a team took part in the event, the team earned 29 points. If not, the teams received extra points based on the number of members volunteering.