Advocacy Corps marks one year of serving community, seeking more to help

The KU Advocacy Corps is marking one year of serving the community by welcoming more faculty, staff and students to serve as someone who can help bring the resources and expertise of the university to area service organizations.

The Corps is hosting a training event from noon to 1 p.m. April 19 in the Jayhawk Room of the Kansas Union. The event will match up interested advocates with community groups. Advocates can partner with organizations seeking a partnership or propose a new pairing. Lunch will be provided to the first 40 people to RSVP.

Amanda Schwegler, assistant director of the Center for Service Learning, described advocates as someone who can serve as a “front door for the university” and use their individual skill sets to enhance a partnership between KU and a charitable organization. The relationship is mutually beneficial.

“I think it’s obvious how this can help the community, but as an advocate it can be very helpful personally, because the skills you learn from that relationship are transferrable in so many ways,” Schwegler said.

The corps was formed a year ago in connection with Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little’s inauguration. Gray-Little wanted to include a service component, which led Linda Luckey, assistant to the provost, and Erica Dvorske, director of the United Way of Douglas County, to propose the idea.

“We decided we wanted something that would be more lasting than a single day of service, though those are also very important,” Schwegler said.

After the first year, there are already 50 advocates signed up to work with community organizations. At the April 19 recruitment event, Keith Wood, former director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County Will speak about the difference between an advocate and a volunteer, the role of an advocate and the benefit of the partnerships. Schwegler will speak about university resources and supports for advocates.

To RSVP, email kuadvocate@ku.edu.

Advocates can play a meaningful role for community organizations.

“KU Advocates are a critical resource for community organizations in a time when resources are scarce,” Dvorske said. “An advocate who is willing to take time to learn about an organization and all that they are trying to accomplish, and then connect to the knowledge and resources at KU is priceless.”

Several of the advocacy pairings have been highly successful in their first year. Diana Seely Frederick, executive director of Douglas County CASA, an organization that advocates for children navigating the court system, said the assistance provided by KU advocates has been exceptional.

“We are extremely grateful for this wonderful support from the KU community,” Frederick said. “The KU Advocacy Corps is making a positive difference for the vulnerable children served by CASA. With such a small staff at CASA, the additional assistance from KU has been priceless.”

For more about the KU Advocacy Corps, visit kuadvocates.ku.edu.

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