To student-athletes at the George Washington University, community service isn’t just a thing to do. Rather, it’s a way of life.
In winning its second consecutive NCAA Team Works Helper Helper Community Service Competition, GW Athletics once again showed that being a Colonial is more than just striving for excellence in competition. At GW, approximately 500 student-athletes competing in 27 varsity sports work tirelessly with coaches and administrators to become champions in competition, in the classroom, and as evidenced once again with this award, in the community.
“Serving our community is a hallmark of GW Athletics,” said Madison Townley, GW’s student-athlete development assistant. “It is important that our student-athletes recognize and support the community that supports us. We’re also thrilled that this pillar of what we do at GW extends far beyond the Capital Area and back to the communities where our student-athletes are from around the world.”
All told, GW student-athletes tallied more than 3,000 service hours since the competition began earlier this semester by participating in events with more than 60 nonprofit organizations. While the NCAA will honor the student-athletes later this month at GW, to the student-athletes, the biggest honor is giving back.
Mark Osis of GW Baseball organized the second annual PROJECT 25:40 Coat Drive with the help of other student-athletes to collect warm winter coats for the area’s homeless population this winter.
"It's such a unique opportunity to live in such an incredible city," said Osis. "For me it just makes sense to give back to the city that has helped make my last three years incredible."
As for women’s diver Iman Lee, volunteering with GW's Disability Support Services was a passion she pursued.
"I believe that all individuals should have the same opportunities to succeed," said Lee. "What motivates me is the feeling I get knowing my efforts can make an impact."
Other highlights of GW’s outreach projects included The Grassroot Project - an 8-week health education program geared to middle school students specifically in HIV and AIDS education - and the annual Colonial Harvest spearheaded by GW Lacrosse. The Colonial Harvest is a basket collection that provides food and toiletries to local families in need.
Hoping to top last academic year’s record total of 10,400 hours of community service performed, as men’s rowing’s Bob Hobert explains, “there is always more work to be done in the community!”
“Connecting student-athletes and member schools to their communities highlights the impact of leadership, collaboration and dedication in college sports and cities across the country,” said Victor Hill, NCAA associate director of championships and community programs. “NCAA Team Works is proud to recognize the difference student-athletes make beyond the classroom and competition, while also supporting the student-athlete experience, their well-being and their successes through service projects and community engagement.”
George Washington also won the Atlantic 10's inaugural "Assists" challenge, which tracked community service hours amoung the league's institutions. In all A-10 institutions recorded nearly 24,000 hours of community service in the first year of the program, and over 70,000 hours in the second year of the Assists program.