ust days after arriving on campus, UT students gathered en
masse to volunteer for UT’s sixth Into the Streets
program on Aug. 26.
The 8 a.m. Saturday start time brought a few sleepy-eyed bedheads among the Falk
Theatre crowd, but by the end of President Vaughn’s encouraging words the
youthful brigade was ready to scrub toilets, pull weeds, feed mouths and paint
More than 250 students, faculty and staff participated in the
annual UT event that sends volunteers, mostly incoming freshmen, into the
community for half-day projects at locations such as Metropolitan Ministries,
Lowry Park Zoo and Hope Children’s Home.
The closest destination was a few blocks away at Tampa Baptist Manor, a
low-income housing unit for senior citizens. Divided into teams of two,
volunteers were given an assortment of supplies and were assigned to clean
apartment kitchens and bathrooms.
Dorothy Murray, 85, smiled broadly when
greeted by two freshman students, Sean Larson and Kevin Jagnandan. Quickly
retreating to her book and a comfortable chair, Murray said that she appreciated
the young volunteers’ efforts.
“It means a lot because it takes a lot for
me to do the housework,” said Murray. “The bathroom is hard for me to do. I have
to get down, and I have a bad back.”
Larson, 17, enthusiastically donned
rubber gloves before polishing Murray’s sink. Prior to arriving at UT, the
spiky-haired student had frequently volunteered as an emergency room technician
at a hospital in Massachusetts. Volunteering, he said, offers a sense of
accomplishment and a chance to form new relationships.
“I enjoy the bond
that you make, the smiles on their faces and how happy they are to see someone
come help them out,” said Larson.
As a three-time Into the
veteran and an Orientation Team leader, senior Teresa Bargiel
appeared to be a savvy scrubber. She said that she was glad to be able to
participate again after last year’s event was cancelled because of inclement
“It feels good even though we’re doing something little like
cleaning people’s apartments,” said Bargiel, whose past volunteer efforts have
included painting, sweeping streets, and working for the Humane
At Metropolitan Ministries in downtown Tampa, Professor Rosario
Urso worked alongside students to diligently sort and hang donated clothing. His
group collectively sorted through more than 700 items.
“It gives you a
very pronounced opportunity to realize that you’re connected,” said Urso. “It is
satisfying to share, to expend yourself to people of need.”
second-time participant, said that Into the Streets
helped him to be a
role model. This sentiment was shared by Aylin Saner, 18, a freshman from Tampa,
who also desired to establish a path others might follow.
important for our generation to be involved and become role models for future
generations,” said Saner, sorting through pantsuits, pajamas and countless other
dusty clothes. “Knowing that I’m giving back is probably the most important
thing about volunteer work.”
For many new students, Into the Streets
created an opportunity
to gain fresh experiences. Tromoui Malone, a freshman from the Virgin Islands,
worked with four others to weed and mulch a butterfly garden at nearby Gorrie
“It was great,” said Malone, catching his breath after
shoveling a new pathway. “This is my first time off campus since I’ve been here.
This was my first time working in a garden and a good experience.”
in the garden were McKay Hall freshman roommates Kristen Nash and Alex Parrish,
who met only a few days before. Laughing about their sweat-stained clothes and
minor abrasions, the pair seemed to have no regrets about participating, despite
staying out late the night prior.
“She had to drag me out of bed,” said
Parrish of her friend Nash, “but it was definitely worthwhile!”
Streets reflects an important aspect of the University’s mission, which
includes the promotion of experiential learning or “learning by doing.” The
event was coordinated by UT’s P.E.A.C.E. Volunteer
Center. For more information about service opportunities, please contact
P.E.A.C.E. at (813) 253-3333 x 3695 or firstname.lastname@example.org.