- Luke Amaro
TBP / ATH's 2020 Update
Although 2020 presented TBP/ATH with quite a few challenges – the greatest of these being trying to keep our volunteers socially distanced & safe from Covid risks – it also presented us with many opportunities for growth and success.
In the past semester, our executive board added 6 new staff members, and our general body GroupMe has expanded to over 200 members. Although we had to limit the amount of volunteers we could accommodate for each event, we consistently had more people sign up than in 2019 (in fact, nearly all of our Saturday meal events had their volunteer slots completely filled within 24 hours of being announced as available). Thanks to generous donations from the Catholic Center, CHaRM, and ARC (as well as the Catholic Center’s willingness to let us use their kitchen), we were able to distribute over 600 meals, 300 gallons of water, and hundreds of clothing/hygiene items while spending $0 during the fall semester.
Our client base has also changed and expanded a great deal this year, as our continued presence in the Athens community has helped us find and build relationships with more encampment communities in the area. We regularly visit 6 different encampments, 5 of which have more than 5 residents. Although many of our clients have been displaced in the past few months (mostly by the Georgia Department of Transportation), we were able to help several clients move their belongings to new sites and made sure to maintain contact with them through their moves (so that we can continue to bring them meals and other necessities). Our increased contact with encampment communities in Athens was made possible by the expansion of our street outreach team, which now consists of 4 of our executive board members. We plan to continue this expansion in 2021 by allowing general body members to apply to the street outreach team (a non-executive position, but with higher distinction than the general body).
During the fall 2020 semester, TBP/ATH also finally hosted a sweepstakes whose grand prize was a football signed by Kirby Smart – the sweepstakes raised $375. In addition to this money raised, we were fortunate enough to receive a $3,600 donation from Jessica Greene, the owner of the Grit and Ted’s Most Best (restaurants in Athens). Near the end of the semester, we were also given $1,500 by the UGA Phi Kappa Psi fraternity to put towards making 75 backpacks, which we were able to distribute to Athens encampments in November. Around this time, the Red and Black published an article about our organization, and we have since received multiple requests for volunteer opportunities from other campus organizations, which we hope to follow through on in the coming year.
In 2021, we hope to continue expanding our volunteer services, while continuing to find ways to safely operate during the pandemic. Furthermore, we hope to continue finding greater publicity for TBP/ATH – both to bring attention to our mission and to continue striving to be one of UGA’s premier service organizations.