There are 15 historic neighborhoods located in Athens, Ga, and several organizations are working toward the preservation and upkeep of these neighborhoods, including the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation, ACTION Inc., Athens Housing Authority, Athens Land Trust and the Athens Area Habitat for Humanity.Why It’s Newsworthy: Students make an impact on the greater Athens community Hands On Athens is one way for UGA students to connect with the community outside of the university, and to also learn more about revitalizing and maintaining the history of historic neighborhoods.
Hands On Athens is a program of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation and is funded by a Community Development Block Grant provided by Athens-Clarke County Department of Housing and Community Development.
According to HOA’s website, its goal is to help assist low-income households in historic neighborhoods by maintaining, repairing and improving properties.
During the year, Hands On Athens volunteers complete restoration projects in mainly three historic neighborhoods: Hancock Corridor, East Athens and Newtown.
Residents have the ability to apply and are eligible if they:
1. Own and plan to continue living in their homes
2. Can document income below 80 percent of the median income level
3. Reside in homes that are at approximately 50 years or older
Athens-Clarke County gained its 11th historic neighborhood in 2016. A section of the Five Points area was approved in early 2015 by the Athens-Clarke County commissioners, upon the request of Athens Clarke County Historic Preservation commission.
With the recognition and continued growth of historic neighborhoods, University of Georgia students are pairing up with these organizations to help contribute to their revitalization.
ServeUGA, an on-campus student organization, has paired up with Hands On Athens for the past year to repair and rejuvenate historic homes for low-income residents.
ServeUGA’s website says, “promotes a culture of service on campus by sharing resources and providing opportunities for service-based organizations to collaborate, while also connecting students to service opportunities across UGA. To stay up to date on service opportunities offered across campus.”
Emily Stone, the director of outreach, says the importance of ServeUGA is to connect students with the greater Athens community.
It’s important to get the students to really engage with the community, because Athens gives back a lot to us. And recognizing that we also have power to give back to Athens,” said Stone.
Students have the opportunity to expand their community service experience and contribution to Athens-Clarke county by volunteering with ServeUGA, even so by becoming ambassadors.
Serve ambassadors lead service experiences and help facilitate the connection between students and the Athens-Clarke community.
The partnership between ServeUGA and Hands On Athens may help residents with various tasks, such as cleaning up neighborhoods, reinstalling a porch or touching up paint on a house.
“It’s been awesome working with them, I think it’s a really rewarding type of work,” said Stone. “You’re going to a house, oftentimes the owner of the house is also there too, and they get to work and met with the people, and it creates a really nice personal experience which is always mutually appreciated.”
Below is an infographic of the various volunteer organizations that ServeUGA, through a subset of their initiative, ServeAthens, pairs with.
Ashley Ansley is a senior majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.