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UTPA's United to Serve project helps Mujeres Unidas housing program
Posted: 05/02/2006
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In conjunction with National Volunteer Week April 22-29 and The University of Texas System's United to Serve Initiative, 31 students and eight faculty/staff members at The University of Texas-Pan American gathered April 22 to provide an outdoor activities space for the families of the Mujeres Unidas Nueva Vida Housing Program.

Women Together/Mujeres Unidas is a private nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization that assists women and children of domestic violence and sexual assault in the Rio Grande Valley. This organization's Nueva Vida Housing Program includes a 16-unit apartment complex which provides a transitional living space for families of domestic violence.

UTPA Dean of Students Dr. Jerry Price (front row left) and Amy Martin, Leadership Academy coordinator (front row right), gather with UTPA students, faculty and staff prior to leaving campus April 22 to volunteer in the United to Serve project. Project volunteers worked on improving outdoor activities space for residents in the Mujeres Unidas Nueva Vida Housing Program, which provides transitional living space for families members that are victims of domestic violence.
Working throughout their traditional day off, project volunteers painted, planted grass, resurfaced the playground and built picnic tables to improve the quality of life for the Nueva Vida Housing residents, particularly the children.

Amy Martin, coordinator of the UTPA Leadership Academy, which helped organize the event - the last of a weeklong series of activities celebrating Student Leadership Week on campus, said the project also provided the volunteers with awareness on issues related to domestic violence.

"Many of the students who were involved are members of the Academy and serve in leadership roles on campus where they help to improve campus life. The United to Serve project provided them an opportunity to make a difference in the community and to hopefully realize the importance of a lifelong commitment to volunteerism," she said.

Co-sponsoring the event with the Student Leadership Academy were the Student Government Association (SGA), Student Life and Transition Services and the Volunteer Resource Program.

Student Academy member and SGA senator Maricela DeLeon said helping out with the United to Serve Project was a wonderful experience.

Pictured raking gravel during UTPA's United to Serve project April 22 are students Jessica Pizzaro and Blanco Carrillo, both members of the Leadership Academy at the University.
"My hard work and dedication worked well with those who share the same character. We worked as a team and got the job done," she said.

The United to Serve initiative is a system-wide volunteer effort to engage and mobilize thousands of volunteers in the more than 15 communities where UT System institutions and/or facilities are located. Started as a project aligned with National Volunteer Week, which began in 1974 under President Nixon to call public attention to what efforts by volunteers can do to improve communities, United to Serve activities have become an annual day of service for UT System students, faculty and staff.

For more information on United to Serve activities on other UT System campuses, log on to http://www.utsystem.edu/ocr/UnitedToServe/.

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