The City of Albuquerque and State of New Mexico benefit from the University of New Mexico’s community engagement efforts throughout the year. University staff members, faculty and students are engaged in a wide range of activities that benefit the community. The university brings millions of dollars into the economy in the form of grants and contracts and giving back to the community is important to UNM's mission.
The UNM Staff Council is collecting information about those volunteer activities that UNM employees do as a group. For example, more than 100 people volunteered to work at the Roadrunner Food Bank over UNM's winter break. The volunteers repackaged bulk food into family-size packages distributed by the food bank. In one day, the volunteers repackaged eight and a half pallets of cereal for distribution that helped feed 20,000 hungry people in New Mexico.
Staff Councilor Mark Reynolds organized the event, working with the Staff Council events committee. “UNM staff continues to show how giving back is an important part of our work, life balance,” he said.
“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart” – Elizabeth Andrew
Many of the UNM Staff Council community engagement projects center around holidays. Last November councilors once again collected leftover Halloween candy, repackaged it and sent it to the military in “care packages.” Reynolds says they collected about 500 pounds of candy each time they hold the event. For the last two years the UNM Employee Health Program coordinated this collection effort.
Happy Tails is a donation drive to collect items for Animial Humane New Mexico. Staff Council volunteers fill a van to brimming with items on the Humane Association’s wish list of needs to help care for homesless animals at Christmas.
For Valentine’s Day next month, Staff Council will host a donation drive “Lovin’ on Little Lobos” to benefit the UNM Children’s Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Staff Council volunteers will collect newborn and premie onsies and hats, and infant and children’s board books.
The Staff Council also fields a team to participate in the Doggie Dash & Dawdle, another Animal Humane event. UNM has participated in the fundraiser since 2012 and normally raises about $1,200 for the Animal Humane Association. All proceeds go to support homeless animals.
In March, Staff Council volunteers will work with the Abq Business Education Compact to collect pre-school to elementary age children’s books for the initiative, “Read to Me.” The books go to those who can’t afford them in an effort to encourage reading. Last year volunteers collected more than 800 books.
Collectively the volunteers who work on these events donate hundreds of hours to support projects in the community. "‘Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart’ a quote from Elizabeth Andrew reminds me that at an early age I was taught the importance of volunteering; of being a servant leader," said Staff Council President Renée Delgado-Riley. "At that time, I did not have money to give, but I gave the gift of time, talent and support to those in my community. To this day, I continue to demonstrate this ideal through Staff Council and our community engagement efforts."
Volunteers are the backbone of an organization and not only does Staff Council make a positive impact on the lives of so many staff at UNM, it also strives to make a difference in the City of Albuquerque and State of New Mexico.