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Fantastic 5:

UK FUSION Scene Depiction Essay

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As excited new wildcats flood campus in August with their trendy dorm decor, emotional parents, and anticipation for the upcoming school year, UK Fusion group leaders begin attracting interest of curious students with ads, flyers, and free prizes. Boasting the largest day of service in the entire state of Kentucky, UK Fusion began in 2003 with approximately 461 student volunteers has now grown to more than 1,600 as of 2014. The desire of our group (the Fantastic Five) is to raise awareness about how important community service is the Lexington area and encourage people to radically invest themselves with as much time and love into the Lexington community as it has invested in us. Despite the fact that we are freshman, we go through the motions of our daily life and fail to realize how many people have invested time and effort into our success in our short time on campus. Reflect back to your senior year of high school and remember applying for scholarships and colleges. Think about the hundreds of letters of recommendations from members of your high school and local community you had to submit, the tests you relentlessly studied for, the hours of study sessions out of class that your educators gave you. Wherever you call home, someone somewhere along the way cared for you and your future. Someone saw potential in you to be great and choose to invest in you what knowledge and wisdom they could give you. Someone decided you are worth it and that you, although just one person, could make a difference in society. Flash forward to present time and think about the teachers you have and the suggestions they’ve made, your academic advisors that ensure you stay on track with your desired career path. All of these individuals in your community have invested something in you in hopes that one day you will repay the favor and benefit the community through philanthropic deeds. What originated as a small University of Kentucky service project designed for incoming freshmen, has quickly exploded into a community wide service project that unites the entire campus ranging from faculty, students, and administrative leaders as volunteers. With the creation of this organization the city of Lexington has benefited greatly in more ways than one. Providing students with a reason to not only get involved in their new community by extending a hand to those around them but by making new friends on campus as well. UK Fusion is a student led group that focuses on unity and service in our neighborhoods. Their mission is to encourage students to become involved in today’s society through a myriad of service opportunities offered during K Week and throughout the school year. In the process of volunteering students and staff are able to form new relationships with a group of people who strongly believe in giving back to a community that so generously gives to UK. (WHITNEY O’BRYAN) Every year students, faculty, and staff members at the University of Kentucky come together to help various nonprofit organizations around Lexington. Practically any type of volunteer work you can think of is done during Fusion. Groups of about ten to twenty people go out into nearby neighborhoods to do both indoor and outdoor work, including landscaping, fundraising, directly working with senior citizens and children, and much more. Dressed in sneakers, hats, sunglasses, and basically anything that they do not mind getting a little bit dirty, participants come ready to work. Provided transportation allows for the volunteers to reach out even further into the Lexington community at locations farther from UK’s campus that they would not be able to walk to. Every group does something so different and helps the organizations involved in such a great way, which is why Fusion has such a large impact on Lexington nonprofits. Whether the organization needs office assistance, help with small construction projects, gardening, or painting, every task completed by the participants of this event makes a great impact on not only the organization but also the people who go to that nonprofit frequently, the Lexington community, and the volunteers. The organization itself is directly affected by these volunteers because they come in and are given a list of things that the organization needs to be done and in just a few hours they are able to knock out some projects that the organization may not necessarily have time for or would take them at least a full day to complete on their own. Some specific examples of work done in the past years by Fusion volunteers include moving desks and furniture, spreading mulch in gardens and on playgrounds, cutting branches, and pulling weeds. Because this event occurs at the end of summer, some of the organizations involved have had summer camps for kids and have a lot of reorganizing and cleaning to do to prepare for the fall. Fusion volunteers help them to complete tasks like disinfecting furniture, testing markers, and organizing supplies, among other things at a much faster pace than if they were to have to do it all by themselves. The volunteers and all of the work that they do for these nonprofit organizations means a lot to the members of these places in Lexington. The participants of Fusion provide a great service to this community and learn so much from their experience with Fusion about Lexington and what they can do to get involved here not only during K Week but all year round. These volunteers tend to go back and continue helping the organizations that they had the opportunity to work with because of Fusion. Whether or not you are from Kentucky, volunteering in the Lexington community is an extremely important part of going to college here because of all of the new people that you get to meet and reach out to. Truly this event is a great way to explore a new and unfamiliar city or maybe even get to help with organizations that you may not have thought to help in the past before starting at UK. (KAYLEE CONRAD) Fusion has committed to working with a number of organizations throughout Lexington through service projects during K-Week. It is a diverse group they have come to work with, including nursing homes and senior centers, local landmarks, local schools, homeless shelters and transitional housing, the rape crisis center and a number of other types of other non-profits. UK Fusion aims to place students and staff out into the community in order for them to gain a better sense of appreciation for the local community and to assist those that are in great need of services. One of those organizations they have come to work with is Mayfield Retirement Center. These are retirement apartments that offer elderly care and try to provide a stimulating environment for the residents as well. They provide entertaining activities for residents on an almost daily basis. Another organization UK Fusion works with is the Lexington Rescue Mission, a facility that I have enjoyed being involved with in the past. One of the services the Mission provides is transitional housing for adult men. They also provide health care to Fayette county residents without health insurance, meals for anyone who is in need, and clothing to children through a couple of different programs. Another service they provide is counseling to learn to navigate different government programs a few days a week to individuals seeking work or looking for housing. They also provide job training to prepare those in need for interviews and how to look for jobs. These are all valuable services for people who have been laid off or on the brink of losing their homes or even for the homeless. This is a place where students or staff can find any number of things to do, including feeding the homeless, which happens four days a week on Glen Arvin Avenue. The Catholic Action Center is one of the other service centers in town Fusion works with in August. The center is open to anyone in need and provides clothing, food and acute housing for people in need seven nights a week at the Community Inn. They also have obtained a house for women who struggle with emotional, physical or mental issues that can house up to six women at a time led by one woman supervisor. Fusion also works with local landmarks, like the Ashland estate where Henry Clay and his wife Lucretia lived here in town. This beautiful estate is a national landmark, exhibiting Henry Clay’s political influence throughout the early years of our country. Different groups and individuals volunteer to keep the grounds clean and as beautiful as they are. UK Fusion has in the past been one of the groups that has worked to maintain the Ashland estate by cleaning debris through the grounds. In working with these organizations, individuals at the University of Kentucky are able to reach a diverse group of individuals throughout Lexington. Fusion is able to build community cohesion though certain work projects, like the Ashland project. They are able to reach individuals on the cusp of homelessness who feel there is no hope, they work with individuals coming out of abusive relationships, who are looking for help, they are also able to work with people in the twilight of their years, giving them some company and maybe some laughter, even for a short time, in hopes of making a lasting impact on lives. (MIKE DEPUE) What began as an idea for a new program in conjunction with the University of Kentucky’s Center for Community Outreach nearly twelve years ago has now expanded into an organization that has impacted over 40 communities surrounding the Lexington and Fayette County area. At the time of its origin, UK Fusion was designed as a way to introduce incoming freshman to new peers, faculty, and businesses. In UK Fusion’s first year of operation only 380 freshman students participated and the number of Lexington companies visited had been strictly limited to those on campus only. However as the interest in UK Fusion grew and word spread about the intent of the program, more freshman began signing up during K Week. The second year of UK Fusion consisted of more than 450 freshman students and a few businesses on the border of “off” campus. With the talk of the good deeds new wildcats were doing, UK Fusion began surging throughout campus and even local companies became interested in having students volunteer at the sites of their businesses. Interest continued growing in the following years and students ranging from freshmen to seniors, to graduates and alumni all became intrigued by the idea of becoming involved in their community. As UK Fusion has expanded its number of volunteers to entail everyone from students to staff, the number of local businesses UK Fusion visited had to increase as well. As of August 2014 UK Fusion now proudly serves at approximately 60 Lexington agencies and has upwards of 2,000 volunteers. While these figures sound impressive, it should put into perspective how many more volunteers the University of Kentucky should have on a campus of thirty thousand . Although the progress UK Fusion and its group members have made has been incredible, can you imagine the progress that could be made if a couple thousand more hands pitched in? The impact that UK Fusion has on the Lexington community can be measured by the quality of work Fusion members accomplish during their day of service. The extent of their tasks goes as far as culminating their efforts with companies such as the Lexington Family YMCA and Habitat for Humanity which in addition to receiving help graciously provides help for other members in the area. The goal of UK Fusion is to ensure that the Lexington and Fayette County areas are not just a community due to proximity but a community due to a willingness to serve and passion to improve today’s society. What many UK students fail to realize as they volunteer for these sites during K Week is the opportunities they’ve been presented with to really make a difference in someone’s life, no matter how big or small it is. Additionally, UK Fusion has impacted students in a positive way, giving them a chance to get community service hours for applications, establish and develop relationships with various members of Lexington society, and a sense of accomplishment knowing that at the end of the day their commitment to serving their community today will echo an eternity and set an example for those students and staff that follow in their footsteps. It places a call on each and every individual to serve their community with a generosity and care. (JARED TUCKER) Community service is an essential aspect of a thriving society.  Being a part of a community means being a part of something that is much bigger than yourself.  It means being surrounded by fellow human beings who will help you and support you, and in turn you should be willing to do the same for them.  Being part of a community is like being part of a body.  When one part is hurt or shuts down, the rest of the body must work hard to compensate for that loss.  You do what you can to try and help heal that one part.  When there are people in our community who are hurting, it affects all of us.  It is vital that we reach out and help these people as much as we possibly can.  When a community member is hurting, it is important to encourage them and build them up.  The more people who are willing to reach out and help, the better! This is why our group feels like it is necessary to highlight the importance of community service via a Public Service Announcement regarding UK Fusion.  We believe Fusion is an amazing opportunity to help our fellow community members.  It has a huge impact on Lexington, and is a life-changing event for many- if not all- who participate.  In our PSA, we will explain what Fusion is exactly and what all they do for the community, because there may be some people on campus who have never even heard of it.  We will also discuss many of the opportunities available to help out.  If you need to work indoors, you can.  If you want to do manual labor, you can.  If you just want to meet people in the community, and serve them in a way that will simply brighten their day, Fusion offers that as well. All of these opportunities and more will be presented in the PSA.  We will explain how to get involved, as well as the importance of getting involved.  We may also look into why more people aren’t getting involved, as well as what Fusion could do better to get even more people interested and thus make an even bigger impact.  We are hoping to meet with the people who plan Fusion, and possibly attend one of their board meetings.  We think this could help us to learn more about what all goes in to planning the event, and who exactly is involved in that.   Our PSA will also touch on different ways that Fusion has really impacted our community.  Hopefully by seeing all that Fusion does to benefit Lexington, and change this community for the better, many more people will want to get involved.  Our goal is to make the public more aware of the event itself, as well as make people want to be a part of it.  There are many people in the community who need our help, so we hope to encourage as many volunteers as possible. (MARIAH BOYD) Below are pictures from various sites that UK Fusion has impacted in the last twelve years. Habitat for Humanity Mayfair Village Retirement Community The Lexington Rescue Mission Men’s Home (N. Limestone and 7 th  St.) The Community Inn

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