Athens, GA—On Sunday, Oct. 17 dozens of volunteers from the Leonard Leadership Scholars Program traveled to the Boys and Girls Club in Garnett Ridge of Athens to clean up the clubhouse. Since the beginning of the Fall 2010 semester, five students in the 2012 class of the Leonard Leadership Scholars Program have been meeting with the Boys and Girls Club Coordinator of Garnett Ridge, Susan Wilson, to pursue a total revival of her program. The purpose of this initiative is to positively impact the environment, education and engagement. The Scholars Class of 2012 has been broken into groups of five or six to help stimulate the Garnett Ridge community in these different aspects.

To kick off the project, one group, named the Fin-Accting Consultants since each member is majoring in either finance or accounting here in the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, organized a major clean-up day for the club house. Outside of the classroom, this group meets two to three times a week with each other and once about every other week with their client, Ms. Wilson. Their main goal is to clean up the club house by throwing away or recycling trash, donating unneeded items to Good Will or storing seasonally used items in a storage unit. On top of these three tasks, the group has been trying to be as environmentally safe as possible. For the Cleanup Day, only environmentally safe products were used for cleaning, and all paper and plastic were sent to recycling bins—they had to take TWO trips to the recycling unit close by to unload full trunk loads of paper, cardboard and plastics.

The whole day was a great success. It lasted from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Local Athens businesses, such as Starbucks and La Parrilla, even pitched in by generously contributing breakfast and lunch for the volunteers. Dozens of volunteers came in shifts throughout the day to sort through messy piles, throw away unneeded items, scrub and clean shelves and cabinets and reorganize the rooms. The group had only planned to clean the computer room, library and main room. However, since more volunteers showed than expected, they were able to also get to the bathroom, the playground and the office.

A full trunk load of games, toys, books, etc. were donated to Good Will after the cleanup. Two or three trips were taken to unload seasonal storable items in the storage unit. Also, at the end of the day, about four trunk loads of trash were dropped off at the local dump. The clubhouse looks a lot better now, and the whole class is extremely proud of what they have already accomplished.

For the Fin-Accting consultants, however, the Cleanup Day was only a start to how they hope to impact the Boys and Girls Club at Garnett Ridge. They are still setting two more dates to go back and finish cleaning, organizing and labeling. Even though they moved storable items into the storage unit, they still need to set up shelving and organize everything. Another of the Scholar’s groups will now start working closely with the clean-up team to ensure that the makeover is environmentally sustainable. In order to fund further efforts, the group has coordinated with Smoothie King and Marble Slab to raise money through percentage nights on the 4th and 6th of November respectively.

Beyond the Fin-Accting Group, another group of the Leonard Leadership Scholars working on the same initiative, named The Dream Team, is also off to a quick start. This team is tasked with helping client Rudy Rodriguez from the Garnett Ridge Executive Board fully realize his dream of finishing a soccer field to engage youth in this neighborhood. The intention is that the creation of this field will give youth in this area a constructive and productive outlet and decrease the attractiveness of getting involved with local gangs and illegal activity. In just a short period, The Dream Team has already cleared and extended the area for the field, secured a shed to keep supplies and helped get the sponsor board installed. Up next they will be approaching local vendors for donations of nets, soccer balls, corner markers and grass installation. They are actively working to ensure environmental sustainability each step of the way. They are excited for the possibility of a kick-off day in the spring of 2011.

The additional groups are in the process of establishing enriched educational opportunities for children, youth and their families through regular community-wide events. More updates on these projects coming soon!