Whether in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan, they fought valiantly for our freedom. Yet estimates claim that nearly 40,000 veterans are homeless on any given night and more than 350,000 live in temporary housing.
The nationwide problem facing veterans runs deep with lack of affordable housing, struggles for livable wages and other issues like post-traumatic stress syndrome and substance abuse.
Georgia College business ethics students have taken up the cause to help homeless veterans in Georgia by partnering with a new project called HomePortMaconGA, Inc. The project is turning a former hotel into a unique community-based housing environment for veterans.
It’s a cause Assistant Professor of Accounting Dr. Cynthia Orms knows well. A veteran herself, when she heard about the effort with HomePort, she knew her students could offer assistance.
“I am a retired veteran and heard about HomePort from the local American Legion Auxiliary,” said Orms. “My students are required to do 10 hours of service learning, so I decided to use this as our course project for everyone.”
Students led the effort to collect donations of furniture and supplies for the rooms. Even securing, picking up and delivering furniture for 14 rooms in the development—donated by Cash Liquidations Furniture Liquidation Store Forsyth, Georgia.
“My goal is for the students to learn and understand corporate social responsibility from this hands on project,” said Orms. “Students are broken up into teams that focus on management, marketing, accounting, all
aspects of a business.”
A group of students even went to work at the facility in September, helping with renovations, setting up rooms and mowing grass.
“This experience has validated my passion for serving others,” said Bailey Kreinbrink, sophomore marketing major. “In class you can only learn so much, but this puts us face-to-face with people doing everything from fundraising to helping raise awareness about the homeless veterans issue. It’s a great experience.”
Kreinbrink and two other students serve as service learning coordinators. Selected through an application process as leaders of each of the three classes involved in the project, they manage the donation and fundraising efforts.
“Now we are working to raise more money for the organization so they can purchase what they need to,” she said. “We are going to local businesses to coordinate spirit nights where proceeds benefit HomePort and collecting donations on campus. We are also working to educate our community of the problems our veterans face.”
The groups will set up information tables at the Fountain Tuesday-Thursday until Dec. 7. With the goal of raising at least $3,000, they’re also still accepting donations of furniture or items to furnish rooms, or more specifically, the recreation room at the facility.
Aside from fundraising and donations, the coursework for students also includes a pre-reflection paper at the start of the semester on what corporate social responsibility is and how they see it at work. Then after the project wraps up in December, they’ll do a post reflection. Orms uses this as a way for students to gain a firsthand understanding of what is needed, how to give back and what they’ve learned through the process.
“In class, we've talked a lot about what kinds of responsibilities we have even outside of the business world. Doing a large community service project with so many other students has really made me realize how important it is to continue
to help others,” said marketing major and senior Rachel Drudy. “Opportunities like this also help me realize that philanthropy and community service should be a lifelong endeavor, not just something you do while you're in college.”
It’s lessons like that Orms hopes her students take away from the course, while also giving back to those who have fought for our freedoms.
For more information on HomePort, visit http://www.homeportmaconga.org/.