The award recognizes the partnership between the club and Elon, which stretches back at least three decades and has expanded and evolved to include volunteerism, academic service-learning courses, internship and practicum placements, research, fundraising and advocacy.
The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Alamance County has been selected as the 2021 Community Partner Award recipient by North Carolina Campus Compact for its partnership with Elon University.
The Community Partner Award is given to one organization annually that has enhanced the quality of life in the community in meaningful and measurable ways and engaged in the development of a sustained, reciprocal partnership with an NC Campus Compact member institution.
This partnership between The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Alamance County (TSABGC) and Elon exemplifies a deep, sustained, evolving, relationship built on a solid foundation of trust, open communication, sharing resources and mutually beneficial interactions. Nearly three decades ago a small group of Elon students began volunteering at TSABGC. Since then the partnership has expanded and evolved to include a multitude of direct and indirect opportunities including volunteerism, academic service-learning courses, internship and practicum placements, research, fundraising, and advocacy.
During the past 10 years, Elon’s Kernodle Center for Civic Life has awarded over $15,000 to support academic partnerships with TSABGC and student organizations have raised over $12,000. In the last two years, students have served more than 1,700 hours and in the past five years, TSABGC has participated in 71 academic-service-learning partnerships that have engaged more than 1,500 students. Through the America Reads program, many students who are eligible to receive federal work-study are able to receive support while serving as tutors at TSABGC. Through the Leaders in Collaborative Service (LINCS) program that was launched in 2004, a student liaison has served as a volunteer manager in the organization and supports TSABGC’s changing needs through student recruitment and building organizational capacity. TSABGC has also been a consistent community partner over the years for student-athletes to engage in service.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the partners have found ways to continue working together and respond to changing needs.
For several years, members of the Elon women’s tennis team have volunteered at TSABGC to help young students with homework or spend time with them on the playground. Since the pandemic did not allow the team to meet with students face-to-face for months, and with their tennis season cut short, the student-athletes launched a new initiative to help the children stay active and connected during months of stay-at-home orders.
Through a collaboration between Elon Athletics and the Kernodle Center for Civic Life, they produced a series of tennis tutorial videos to teach students at the TSABGC how to play the sport. The lessons focus on the basics of tennis, from conditioning to fundamental techniques that can be learned without the use of equipment. This was especially valuable in the summer when TSABGC’s summer camp could only support a fraction of its typical number of campers, and field trips had to be canceled altogether. Because of the videos, the students who were unable to attend this year’s camp could stay active by gathering several times a week around a television or projection screen to learn footwork, conditioning and serving skills from Elon tennis players.
The experience of serving at TSABGC has been so transformative that dozens of students have continued volunteering at the club even after their service-learning course or episodic volunteering activity ended. Notably, Tara Nager ’12 served as a tutor while a student at Elon and then took on a leadership role as a LINCS volunteer for two years, and then served as a senior year intern. Upon her graduation, Nager joined the staff at TSABGC and now serves as program director.
The strong reciprocal nature of the partnership is evidenced by the fact that Executive Director Sherri Henderson, who has been with the SABGCA since 1988, co-facilitates training sessions at Elon and has served on the Advisory Committee of the Kernodle Center for Civic Life. She also speaks in classes, and currently advises the Partnership Agreement committee with faculty, staff and students as part of the Academic Service- Learning Advisory Committee.
TSABGC has two Elon staff and one faculty member serving on its Advisory Council. One Elon staffer serves on Area Council, a leadership forum for The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of North and South Carolina.
The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Alamance County was honored virtually at North Carolina Campus Compact’s annual Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement (PACE) conference on Feb. 10.
North Carolina Campus Compact is a collaborative network of 39 colleges and universities committed to educating students for civic and social responsibility, partner with communities for positive change, and strengthen democracy. Learn more at www.nccampuscompact.org.