After Hurricane Katrina struck, many LSU students felt the need to build some type of outreach program. Eventually, these calls for action culminated in the development of the Campus Life program Volunteer LSU.
Although it was created in response to offer community service for Hurricane Katrina, Volunteer LSU was not made with only that in mind.
According to their website, their mission is “to promote and coordinate volunteer opportunities, build partnerships within the community, and instill a lifelong commitment to service.”
Since 2005, Volunteer LSU has been involved in a wide array of outreach efforts, some of which include tutoring, cleanup, and restoration projects. Coming up, however, is sure to be of the organization’s most unique opportunities—The Special Olympics.
Starting March 4, and ending March 6, Special Olympics Louisiana will be found all over Baton Rouge, and Volunteer LSU is going to be a part of it for the first time.
Special Olympics Louisiana, which comes every four years, serves as a stepping stone for athletes to enter the National Games. Because of the wide variety in Olympic Games, the events will be scattered throughout the city over the weekend.
The bowlers will be at Circle Bowl and All Star Lanes, tennis players will be at Independence Park, and the basketball players will be at the Team Automotive Sportsplex.
Ellen Baus, Health and Wellness Focus Area chair for the Volunteer LSU, offered some insight about the program and her involvement with the event.
“Currently, I’m working on the Special Olympics and Volunteer Hospice,” Baus said. “Other members of the group have exciting projects as well, including Tigers Tutoring, Bayou Manchac Cleanup, Friday Night Out, Cemetery Restoration, and many more!”
Baus, who began working for Volunteer LSU in January, is the one that, along with her team, planned this volunteer experience.
“We will be participating in all of their events. We anticipate that 35 volunteers will attend the event,” she said, despite this only being their first year.
Volunteers will be doing nearly everything imaginable for these games, such as setting up, officiating, scorekeeping, and timing. According to Baus, volunteers will also have a lot of flexibility in working with the events and times that fit into their schedule.
“Each volunteer gets to choose the shift and activity in which they would like to participate,” Baus said. “We will do our best to give everyone their first choices.”
Baus emphasized how great of an opportunity Volunteer LSU has with this event.
“The Special Olympics impacts many people’s lives. The Special Olympics provides opportunities to more than 4.4 million athletes and 1 million volunteers worldwide in more than 170 countries,” she said. “This is an amazing network of individuals that students of LSU will be given the opportunity to interact with and learn from!”
Margo Jolet, LSU Campus Life’s associate director for Marketing & Communications, seemed to feel the same way as Baus about this incredible experience.
“Like all Campus Life programs, we hope to build bridges with the community by offering LSU students innovative leadership, service, and involvement opportunities outside the classroom that complement their studies,” she said.
“We see LSU as a family, and hope to champion inclusion, especially when we serve others who are different from ourselves. This [event] is what the LSU Commitment to Community tenet: ‘Respect the dignity of all persons and accept individual differences,’ is all about.”