These Rattlers live for community service

Amanda Dwyer (middle) volunteers at a campus barbecue event. Photo courtesy: Amanda Dwyer.

While some students spend their weekends shopping at the mall or watching a movie, junior Anaijah Graham’s days off look a little different.

Instead of using her spare time for leisure, Graham volunteers at organizations across her local community. As a member of Florida A&M University’s Active Volunteer Efforts (FAVES), Graham aids her peers in finding community service opportunities nearby.

“Volunteering is something I love doing. I tend to want to volunteer and help others instead of going out,” Graham said. “I haven’t had a true FAMU homecoming experience because I would rather volunteer.”

Through working with FAVES, Graham was able to increase her impact in the community. The organization was founded to aid with campus volunteer opportunities and to provide a space for altruistic students to convene.

“In this organization all we do is volunteer, whether that is doing our annual food drive or volunteering the entire homecoming week on campus. We truly serve our community,” Graham said.

Amanda Dwyer volunteers with the Animal Science Club in Valdosta, GA to monitor, ear tag and immunize small ruminants. Photo courtesy: Amanda Dwyer

FAVES co-founder and administrative secretary Amanda Dwyer volunteers to spread awareness to issues that are bigger than herself. For Dwyer, she said community service gives her the platform to advocate for change and set a good example for those around her.

“My hope for community service’s impact is that it inspires the next person to wake up and be present in their community, to be active,” Dwyer said. “‘Each one teach one’ is a good phrase that could be used in this scenario.”

Dwyer coordinates FAVE events that allow members to connect and serve together. FAVES hosts activities geared toward mentorship and service including visiting the Kearney Center and tutoring students at Walker Ford Community Center.

“I encourage all my friends all the time to accompany me to my service projects. I’ve been doing volunteer work since high school so it just takes one project to make you get hooked,” Dwyer said.

Kiram Harrison (Right) donates bedroom essentials to a local homeless shelter. Photo courtesy: Kiram Harrison

FAMU senior Kiram Harrison serves as the second vice chair for FAVES. She said community service comes as second nature to her, since she grew up volunteering. Her mother raised her to give back to others based on the principle that no one knows what a stranger is going through.

“I look at service, no matter how big or small, as acts of kindness. So I do what I can when I can to give compassion to others,” Harrison said.

From volunteering at Covenant Care Hospice to working with the Boys and Girls Club, Harrison has a wide range of service experience. She said the impact of community work leaves a noticeable dent in society.

“Whether it’s the people who benefit from the service itself, those who participate in the service, or those who will be inspired to help in their own way, someone always benefits from helping others,” Harrison said.

Graham agrees that the impression of her actions outweigh any sacrifices she may have to make. Her passion fuels her endeavors, motivating her to think beyond herself and improve the lives of others.

“The biggest impact is how grateful people are to have someone pour into them,” Graham said. “For me, I enjoy knowing that I probably would never get tired of this work. It brings me joy.”