TeamVOLS (Volunteer Outreach for Leadership and Service), at The University of Tennessee, is an organization devoted to uniting the University community with the societal issues and needs of the greater Knoxville community. In 1992, TeamVOLS was created by a handful of students desiring to make a difference. Today, this organization coordinates and oversees more than 11,000 hours of documented volunteer work each year. The work of TeamVOLS can be seen throughout the University and community at large, but it can also be seen in every student who volunteers his/her time and energy each day. The University of Tennessee prides itself on being home to the “Volunteers” and nowhere is that pride more evident that in TeamVOLS – a team commited to Volunteer Outreach for Leadership and Service.
The driving forces behind TeamVOLS are its Leadership Board and its thousands of student volunteers. The Leadership Board is comprised of 27 undergraduate student coordinators that focus on 18 target areas of service. These student coordinators are charged daily with connecting student volunteers with a myriad of agencies and programs throughout the community. The Leadership Board challenges students to take ownership in their community, encouraging them to seek out specific areas of need. Year after year, students eagerly respond to this challenge. As a result, TeamVOLS serves more than 75 local agencies on a routine basis.
Beyond the statistics and numbers, there are the students whose lives have been changed by their involvement in TeamVOLS. TeamVOLS works to foster a commitment to lifelong service in its student volunteers, and the students have responded. Throughout the years, many students have benefited from and built on their leadership experience in TeamVOLS. One example is the development of a 1998 Alternative Spring Break (ASB) coordinator who led a very successful service project in Baltimore, Maryland that accumulated more than 1,500 service hours in only six days. This student’s experience in Baltimore also benefited the Knoxville community.
After ASB, she realized that she wanted to expand her community service, joining the Peace Corp in Central America. This is only one example of the many students who have carried their commitment to community service beyond the walls of the TeamVOLS office into the local community and the world.
TeamVOLS is based upon volunteer outreach for leadership and service. Since 1995, TeamVOLS has increased its number of documented volunteer hours by almost 500%, accumulating 44,906 hours of volunteer work as of May 2000. All universities are charged with the responsibility of creating leaders for the future; TeamVOLS charges its student volunteers to become leaders dedicated to improving the future through a lifelong commitment to community service.