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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Community Engagement Celebrated at ODU 85 Hours of Service Event

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Spring may be late in arriving this year to Hampton Roads. But the warm spirit of volunteerism has flourished all year at Old Dominion University.

A crowd of several hundred gathered in unseasonably cool temperatures, but under a warm sun, on Kaufman Mall for a celebration of the University's commitment to service.

President John R. Broderick challenged members of the University community last August to perform 85 hours of service during the academic year in celebration of Old Dominion's 85th birthday. The April 14 celebration lauded efforts of the Old Dominion volunteers, and encouraged faculty, staff and students to continue their volunteer engagement efforts through the semester.

"An author once said, 'When you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in,'" Broderick said, noting that the Old Dominion event also celebrates National Volunteer Week, held every year since 1974 to inspire, recognize and encourage people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities nationwide.

"So it is only fitting that we gather today to celebrate all of you for your commitment to service, and thank our community nonprofit agencies for their partnership."

During his State of the University address last August, President Broderick said ODU students performed more than 500,000 hours of community service during the previous year - a $12.5 million value.

There are still opportunities to volunteer as part of the service campaign through the end of the school year in May. At yesterday's celebration, more than a dozen local agencies set up tables, informing students how they can make a difference in their community.

On campus opportunities for service exist as well. Key among those is Relay for Life, the largest philanthropic event on campus, which returns April 15 and 16 to the Student Recreation Center. Volunteers are also needed to clean up campus and paint storm drains during Blue Goes Green Week, the annual celebration of environmental and sustainable activities held during Earth Week April 21 to 23.

Service and volunteerism were made the centerpiece of the University's 85th birthday. Old Dominion First Lady Kate Broderick, co-chair of the 85th anniversary committee, thanked everyone involved in planning for the year-long celebration.

"I would like to personally thank everyone involved with anniversary planning," she said. "Most importantly, I want to thank you for giving your time and talents throughout the year in support of this great institution and our commitment to service."

Karen Meier, the University's assistant vice president for community engagement and 85th anniversary co-chair, quoted Margaret Mead's words about how volunteerism can make a difference.

"'Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world,'" Meier said. "Well, look around you, Monarchs. That is what we are doing."

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