Volunteer Odyssey, a Memphis-based company, driven to give back to the local community, has partnered with The University of Memphis. Thanks to the efforts of over 5,000 UofM students, the partnership has created a $1 million impact on the city.
The partnership began in August 2017. The volunteer work provided by students was in direct response to Memphis-specific needs, including home building and repair.
“The partnership with Volunteer Odyssey...has enabled us to greater connect our students to the City of Memphis and its needs,” said Zachary Carr, associate director of the Center for Service Learning and Volunteering in a UofM press release.
Carr also said that having students working alongside Volunteer Odyssey helps connect students with the city that they study in and serves as an influence to keep students from Memphis in Memphis.
According to the press release from The University of Memphis, student involvement in volunteering efforts has steadily doubled every year since 2017. Over 45,000 volunteer hours were calculated since August 2018.
“Building a bridge and connecting the dots between our campus and the city allows our students to become active members of the community,” Carr said. “(It) has a lasting, positive impact on the community at large.”
The milestone, being a $1 million impact in the city from volunteering efforts, takes additional review to fully and correctly comprehend. The number, 1 million, does not represent revenue created, materials used or a firm dollar amount.
The economic impact was calculated using an hourly value of $22.67 per hour. This is an approximate rate for earnings by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, a system widely used for volunteer statistics in the state of Tennessee.
The UofM Center for Service Learning and Volunteerism helped connect interested students with Volunteer Odyssey. The University of Memphis does not have a service hour requirement for admission, but the interest and involvement of UofM students warranted attention nonetheless.
“The fabric of our nation is strengthened by the service of its volunteers,” said Barbara Stewart, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service in the UofM press release. “When we stand side-by-side to help others, our differences fade away, and we learn that Americans have more in common than we realize.”
Thirty-three percent of college students in Tennessee have volunteer service hours, according to a study by AmeriCorps. Tennessee ranks 17 out of 50 states in this statistic.
The importance of volunteer work can be questioned by college students, especially incoming freshmen. Some studies show that volunteer work can impact a student’s acceptance, while others find it unimportant from a personal perspective.
According to a report from Princeton University, community service and volunteer work ranked as a two out of four in importance upon application, described as “considered but not important.” Another report released by The College of William and Mary ranked volunteer work as a four out of four in importance.
Despite the personal impact volunteer work can have on a college student, the community and those involved with The UofM partnership with Volunteer Odyssey have benefited in social and civil regard, according to Stewart.
“Each and every day, ordinary Americans are stepping up to support their fellow citizens to help with needs both great and small, said Stewart in the UofM press release. “Because they understand the power service has to change communities and lives for the better.”
Volunteer Odyssey does work in the Memphis community outside of the partnership as well. The organization has created 219,000 service hours and $4,900,000 in volunteer impact according to their website.
The Center for Service Learning and Volunteerism is located on the second floor in the University Center building. Volunteer opportunities for students can be found online on TigerZone.