A break for service

Shelby Clemmer wants to show everyone that giving back to the community can make a difference. That’s why the junior psychology major is spending her spring break helping various organizations in Charlotte, N.C., and leading an alternative break trip with five other students. 

Clemmer became involved with service in high school and she stayed involved at Carolina, participating in the monthly Service Saturday events. But she wasn’t drawn to go on an alternative break trip until the perfect opportunity came along. 

With the help of Kayla Lisenby, coordinator for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) programs with the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, Clemmer planned a trip to work with groups aiding the LGBT community, combining two of her interests. 

“I’ve always been interested in LGBT affairs,” she says. “I’ve been raised by two moms so it’s always been a passion of mine. I never saw it as anything different, and I didn’t see it as advocacy. But I really found a passion for diversity in general when I got here.” 

This week students will be volunteering at the Regional Aids Interfaith Network (RAIN), Charlotte Pride and Time Out Youth, a youth shelter in the city. Planning the trip was a lot of work, Clemmer says, but it just might be good practice for her future career working with the LGBT community. 

“This gave me a way to use my passion for service and LGBT together,” she says. 

She also says she hopes the trip will show more students how they can give back to the community. Students participants will clean up, cook dinner and aid the organizations however they can. 

“I think a lot of times people want to think that it’s just an advocacy thing but find it difficult to find ways to become allies to the LGBT community,” Clemmer says. “I think this is a way to show people that even small things can make a difference. Anybody can be an ally anytime.”

As for giving up her spring break for a volunteer trip, Clemmer says she doesn’t mind, especially knowing that other students also want to spend their breaks helping others. 

“I had the beach spring break, but I don’t think it’s nearly as fulfilling as working towards my passion,” Clemmer says. “This is what I want to do with my life; I want to advocate for LGBT rights until there’s no need for it anymore. So I think it’s much more rewarding. I’d rather spend my spring break doing something I can actively participate in and make a difference.”    

This spring break 65 participants went on six different alternative break trips. The students have been sharing their experiences on social media. More information about UofSC's community service programs including Service Saturday and alternative break trips is available through the Leadership and Service Center

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