From Behind the Laptop, to Serving the Community

From Behind the Laptop, to Serving the Community

Story by: Brian Lovellette
St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Sports Information Director

As a Sports Information Director (SID), we are often the ones you see at events sitting behind a laptop or with our faces obscured behind a camera, taking pictures. It is our job to cover the student-athletes accomplishments on their field of play and acknowledge their contributions off of it as well. Last week I joined 38 other SID's from across the country and in all divisions in volunteering during the annual College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Convention.

This was the sixth year that CoSIDA held a community service event in conjunction with their annual convention. During this year's convention, held in Orlando, Fla., CoSIDA partnered with Samaritan's Feet to assist the homeless during a visit to the Coalition for the Homelesss of Central Florida. As SID's we often write about the joys that come from competition on the field, but today I get to write about the joy that comes from serving the community.

On Tuesday, June 17th CoSIDA held three events that raised money and gave back to the community. The day began with a fundraising 5k walk/run that featured over 134 competitors, including myslef and raised over $1500 to be donated to the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida later in the day.

After a short break 38 SID's gathered to travel to the homeless shelter where we would work with Samaritan's Feet in serving the clients at the shelter. Samaritan's Feet is an international charity organization that helps distribute shoes to those in need. One of the representatives from Samaritan's Feet best summed up what they do when he said, "Life can change with an attitude change and education. It is about using the platform we have and giving back, giving hope to those less fortunate."

After arriving to the shelter we spoke with several members from the staff of both the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Samaritan's Feet. It was during these talks that we learned more about the clients we would be serving and how important it is to give back. Once the clients arrived SID's took turns washing feet, handing out shoes, and in general connecting with people at the shelter.

For me personally, when the first client sat down in front of me, I could see the thankfulness in her eyes. Here was a lady in her 40's and down on her luck; allowing me, a complete stranger, to wash her feet and give her a new pair of socks and shoes. But it was more than just giving out the socks and shoes. I think the biggest difference made that day was showing those at the shelter that people still care about them.

Getting away from our jobs and training sessions and having a chance to give back to those in need is a truly humbling experience. In our jobs we are the ones that write the stories telling how our schools and student-athletes are making a difference in the community. But this day we were able to join in and contribute to the difference being made.

Of course the clients are grateful for what they receive whether it is shoes, food, or clothing. But the real benefit of any community service I have ever done is making that personal connection with everyone involved, from the volunteers to the clients to the employees of the organization. Strangers coming together to share in life and spread hope. That is what all of this is truly about.

Muffett Robinson, Director of Community and Media Relations for the Coalition of Homeless of Central Florida spoke with us during the visit to the shelter and said, "Something unique is going on here. People that don't usually smile are walking away from here smiling."

One of my favorite moments of that day was seeing one of the SID volunteers who had lived in South America for over a decade, speaking to a family at the shelter in their natural tongue, Spanish. They must have just sat there talking for 15 minutes at least. It is that interaction and connecting with others that is the true difference maker in giving back to those in need.

To close out the day CoSIDA held a silent and live auction at a local restaurant, raising money once again to give back. This marked the fifth year for a fundraising auction and with this year's totals the event has now raised over $17,000 total. To watch a short video of our visit to the shelter and working with Samaritan's Feet click HERE

Focusing on giving back is something CoSIDA has taken to heart. And with that in mind the CoSIDA Goodwill and Wellness Commitee has created the CoSIDA15 program that unites and honors SID's who volunteer at least 15 hours of community service each year. If you are interested in joining the CoSIDA15 program click HERE

To learn more or if you are interested in working with Samaritan's Feet on your campus or your city email visit their website at www.samaritansfeet.org
For more information on the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida head to www.centralfloridahomeless.org

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