Emory Cares Marks 10 Years of Service

By Michelle Valigursky

For teenagers in the Decatur area, Get Grounded Teen Studio has become a haven to study, socialize, play music and games, and enrich their spirits and minds with yoga classes and seminars. As one of this year’s Emory Cares projects on Emory Cares International Service Day November 10, the non-profit Get Grounded will work with Emory volunteers to gather books and improve the center’s physical facilities while mentoring the program’s teens who work alongside them.

Angie Waddell 90Ox 92C founded Get Grounded in 2009 in fulfillment of a lifelong passion to provide education and support for teens. Earlier this year, her non-profit organization leased space from Emory near main campus and set to work “creating a place for teens to call their own that is healthy, safe, and supervised,” Waddell says.

Get Grounded’s teen advisory board makes collective decisions that influence programming such as CPR training and social issue discussions. Waddell explains, “Our mission is to empower these teens to take charge of their own community and appreciate the consequences of decisions. As a board, they evaluate the center’s budget, select enrichment opportunities, organize community service efforts, and provide assistance to other teens in need through charitable efforts of their own. Throughout it all, Get Grounded staff offers support and resources to help these young people make wise decisions.”

For Emory Cares International Service Day this year, Get Grounded is organizing a book drive and a facilities improvement effort to allow enhanced program offerings to area teens in the future. “We invite Emory students, friends, and families to join us as we work together to improve functionality in the Teen Studio’s environment,” Waddell encourages, pointing out that the center is within walking distance of campus. For more information on how you can volunteer for this Emory Cares project, visit www.alumni.emory.edu/volunteer-and-give/emory-cares.html. 

A history of giving back

A decade ago, then Emory Alumni Board President Renelda Mack 83C envisioned just such an Emory community service effort. She has shared, “Emory Cares and Emory Cares Everywhere provide a wide variety of service projects. Together, we help meet the needs of others, alleviate pain, improve the environment, and more importantly, spread hope.”

Her initial vision has come to fruition. In 2011 alone, 81 official service projects took place in 40 cities around the globe. To date, the total number of community organizations served stands at 118, while the total number of volunteer participants reaches nearly 9000. 

Emory Cares Program Coordinator Venus Miller explains. “We could not be more proud to carry on the legacy begun a decade ago by alumna Renelda Mack,” she says. “Every year Emory Cares continues to grow, and the lives our efforts touch continue to multiply. It is incredibly gratifying for everyone involved.”

Alumni volunteer service project coordinators in the U.S. and abroad are identified to coordinate service projects in their cities with guidance and assistance from the Emory Alumni Association. Miller adds, “We invite all alumni, parents, and friends to register online for one of our Emory Cares projects. For those cities in which a project isn’t organized, independent charitable efforts are recognized through Emory Cares Everywhere.”

Today, Emory Cares Day represents collaboration between the Emory Alumni Association and Volunteer Emory.

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Michelle Valigursky