CSUN’s volunteer program Unified We Serve was presented an American College Unions International award for their outstanding service projects at the A.S. Board of Directors meeting on Monday.
Debra Hammond, executive director of the USU Board of Directors presented the award to Justin Weiss, Unified We Serve coordinator, and eight members of the volunteer program.
Hammond said ACUI is the oldest professional association in student affairs in the country who had submissions from over 50 campuses in the nation.
“Why this program is so unique this year is they decided to a layering of the program,” said Hammond. “It’s not just one program that was done on one day but it is a series of programs over the course of an entire month that was all connected to the same purpose,” she said about the the reduction of poverty program that Unified We Serve coordinated last semester.
This included Survive the Night, where students got to feel what it would be like to be homeless. The volunteer program also coordinated a food and clothes drive, they participated in a Adopt a Family for Thanksgiving and took a field trip to Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND), a non profit organization that operates in our area and focuses on basic human rights.
Hammond praised the program for all their work with a modest budget of under $3,000.
To put a month long series of events with that kind of money is a tremendous effort, said Hammond.
“Thank you for representing us so well. You really have done a tremendous job in a short period of time,” Hammond said.
Weiss accepted the award and thanked the USU Board of Directors, specifically Hammond for encouraging them to submit the program for the award. He also thanked the CSUN Administration, Student Development, and lastly what he called the most important aspect of the program, the members who volunteer for Unified We Serve.
Weiss said Unified We Serve is not just the name of the program, but it is also the philosophy.
“We find faculty, staff, and students all together as one to do great amounts of services in our communities.”
Senior Jillian Banks, a political science and Pan African studies major, has ben involved in the program since day one and is happy that the program is being recognized.
“Doing community service is something that is amazing and self fulfilling in itself,” said Banks. “Knowing that you are able to help with something or bring awareness about something but also being recognized for it takes it to a whole other level.”
Even though Banks will be graduating this spring, she says she will still continue to work with Unified We Serve.
Ryan Mason, a fourth year sociology and Pan African studies major has also been involved with the program since the beginning. Mason was part of coordinating the food and clothes drives and participated in Survive the Night.
“Wining this award makes us official on campus,” said Mason. “I tend to look at it from the outside perspective. (I’m) happy that people will notice what we are doing and they themselves can join us in our goal for the organization. Essentially it is about getting people involved and unifying the campus to unify the soul,” he said.
Weiss said anyone is welcomed to join the program. Those who are interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org.