Project MOVE, The University of Texas at El Paso’s annual day of community service, won’t take place this year. The event was originally scheduled for Saturday, April 24, but University volunteers can still make a difference in their communities in spite of the coronavirus. | 2019 Archive Photo by UTEP Communications
One of the rites of spring at The University of Texas at El Paso is Project MOVE, the annual day of community service where thousands of students, faculty, staff and alumni take on dozens of eclectic projects that benefit residents throughout the Paso del Norte region.
Out of an abundance of caution due to COVID-19, event organizers canceled the 2021 edition of this popular event, which was scheduled for Saturday, April 24. However, University volunteers can still make a difference in their communities in spite of the coronavirus, said Ofelia Dominguez, chair of Project MOVE (Miner Opportunities for Volunteer Experiences) and director of Union Services.
“We encourage the UTEP community to find safe, socially distant ways to volunteer in the region,” Dominguez said. “These are growth opportunities, especially for our students, to go beyond their comfort zones and become part of something greater than themselves.”
Members of the University community can register through UTEP’s Center for Community Engagement to access numerous volunteer prospects where they can fulfill Project MOVE’s slogan of “Working Together, Serving El Paso.” UTEP has a national reputation as an institution that encourages community service. Many students have shared how their participation is a life-changing experience.
Dominguez compiled a list of possible short-term activities Miners could consider as a way to have a positive effect on neighbors and neighborhoods, whether it be on April 24 or in the future. Whatever is considered, she asked that participants tackle their assignments with the same attention to personal safety and responsibility that is applied to a Project MOVE activity.
- Pick up trash around their residential block or their neighborhood park.
- Contact a neighbor who may be a shut-in due to age or health to see if they need help with yardwork, minor home repairs or items from a local store.
- Take some healthy snacks to the teachers and staff at your neighborhood schools or your houses of worship, or consider another random act of kindness.
- Become a youth mentor or tutor at a community center. If your schedule allows, consider becoming a youth sports coach.
- Volunteer at a food pantry or homeless shelter or other organization that helps individuals who could use a hand.
- Ponder becoming a blood donor.
- People who love domestic animals may consider helping at area animal shelters that often need help from individuals who can be a foster “owner” or an animal’s playmate.
- Consider a call to Rebuilding Together El Paso, a nonprofit organization that helps families in need with home repairs and other improvements. Volunteers do not need to have building skills.
- Contact the United Way of El Paso, American Red Cross, West Texas Chapter, or the YWCA El Paso Del Norte Region for additional ideas on where your skills and the communities’ needs could intersect.
For Miners who miss the camaraderie of the University’s day of community service, know that organizers have begun to consider a mini-Project MOVE for the fall 2021 semester.
From 2010, when Project MOVE launched, through its last pre-COVID event in 2019, this activity registered approximately 12,000 volunteers and logged about 48,000 hours of service at around 450 projects requested by roughly 160 community partners.
Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications