Community partnerships connect students and faculty with service opportunities at local agencies.
Whether you would like to tutor at local schools or learn more about the causes and effects of poverty, the Bunting Center encourages all students to participate in an ongoing community partnership with a service organization in Birmingham. Each partnership is student-initiated and student-coordinated, a dynamic which allows students to practice leadership, develop real relationships with nonprofit organizations, and foster and strengthen BSC's partnerships with the surrounding community. To get involved, contact the student liaison listed on the project's page.
Students interested in launching a new partnership or serving as a liaison should discuss their ideas with the Bunting Center staff. That’s why we’re here - to provide resources and guidance as students deepen their service-learning experiences. In the past, students have worked with such organizations as Meals on Wheels, Woodlawn High School, and the Old Firehouse Shelter.
For information on Partnerships, contact Emily Thornton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Blueprints College Mentoring
Blueprints is a college mentoring program that connects college students with low-income high school students. Sponsored by Alabama Possible, Blueprints creates a college-positive culture by combining a series of classroom workshops with after-school support, visits to college campuses, assistance with the college application process, and information on financing college. As mentors, BSC students share their insights about choosing the right school and preparing for college as they encourage high school students to continue their education.
Blueprints is a partnership between Alabama Possible, Local High Schools, YouthServe, and BSC.
Bush Hills Academy
Bush Hills Academy is a K-8 school that serves our local neighborhood. Located adjacent to the BSC campus, Bush Hills Academy offers a challenging academic curriculum, character education opportunities, and after school programs focusing on student development. Our partnership with Bush Hills centers on two main projects: 1) tutoring and mentoring students and 2) organizing Student of the Month celebrations.
Tutoring - Volunteers usually tutor a student in reading and math over the course of a semester. Sessions last around an hour and are held one or two times a week. Equally important, volunteers become mentors to the students.
Student of the Month - Each month, Bush Hills Academy honors students who have excelled or improved in academics, behavior, and character. Volunteers organize a celebration for these outstanding students by creating certificates, ordering food, assembling goodie bags, and helping recognize the students at the party.
Additional Opportunities - Possibilities for expanded service-learning initiatives at Bush Hills Academy include assisting with theatre, music, and art classes.
Desert Island Supply Company (DISCO)
Located in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Birmingham, the Desert Island Supply Company (DISCO) holds workshops that encourage students from local schools to develop their writing skills by engaging in creative writing exercises. Volunteers assist with writing and tutoring workshops that are held throughout Birmingham and work with students ages six to eighteen. DISCO partners with local schools, museums, libraries, and community centers to sponsor writing booths and workshops.
Recently, the Bunting Center partnered with DISCO to add a science component to the organization’s creative writing workshops. Volunteers explain or demonstrate a science topic while encouraging students to develop a creative, easy-to-understand, and — most important — fun narrative based on their observations. Volunteers are encouraged to lead workshops based on their strengths and interests.
First Light Women’s Shelter
First Light Women's Shelter provides a safe and nurturing community for homeless women and their children, encouraging them to maintain dignity, find hope, and seek opportunities to achieve their full potential. In addition to providing emergency shelter for women and their children, First Light offers permanent supportive housing for women with disabilities, individual case management by professional social workers, and day programs such as art therapy and Bible study.
Each Wednesday, BSC volunteers bring dinner prepared by BSC's cafeteria chefs. At First Light, students visit with the women staying at the shelter before serving dinner. Volunteers also plan and facilitate special events and activities for the residents, including bingo games, karaoke lessons, make-over nights, and field trips to Birmingham-Southern sporting events.
Greater Birmingham Humane Society (GBHS)
The Greater Birmingham Humane Society (GBHS) is the largest and oldest humane society in Alabama.Â Their mission is to promote the humane treatment of animals and people through education, advocacy, and services. Through funding from donations, GBHS is able to offer programs like Pet Adoptions and Humane Education to better serve the people and pets of Birmingham and help end animal cruelty and suffering.
Volunteers are able to assist the shelter by exercising and socializing the animals, as well as helping with a range of tasks to help maintain the facilities. To find out more information about the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, visit their website (www.gbhs.org).
Habitat for Humanity
The Birmingham-Southern College Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter was founded in fall 2009 to encourage students to volunteer to build affordable housing in Birmingham and to educate students on housing issues affecting the community around them. A student-led organization, BSC’s Habitat chapter has grown to become one of the most popular ways that 'Southern students engage with their community. The chapter hopes that volunteering through Habitat for Humanity will show students how to become active members of the community and how to apply knowledge gained from service in all aspects of life.
Volunteers help build homes in neighborhoods near BSC, and no construction experience or tools are needed – equipment and training are provided on-site.
About Our Chapter
The goals of the BSC Habitat Chapter are rooted in four pillars that guide campus chapters of Habitat for Humanity.
The first is to support the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham by volunteering to build homes for low-income neighbors. Since the chapter’s founding, over 100 student volunteers have contributed to the construction of several different houses throughout the area.
Secondly, we fundraise to support builds. With the help of the BSC SGA, the chapter became a primary sponsor of a build after raising over $4,000. State Farm Insurance also awarded a $2,000 matching grant to the chapter, one of only 21 such grants awarded nationwide.
The third pillar is to advocate for affordable housing. Sponsoring the annual cardboard city event is one of our chapter’s main advocacy initiatives, as students camp out on the academic quad for a night to raise awareness and frame discussions on housing and homelessness with the campus community.
Finally, we educate the campus community on the need for affordable housing. Aiming to connect BSC students with leaders who are spearheading efforts to end homelessness, the chapter has sponsored speakers such as Michelle Fairley (Executive Director of One Roof Alabama) and Alabama State Representative Patricia Todd.
The BSC Habitat Chapter is especially fortunate to be part of the many community partnerships in the Bunting Center for Engaged Study and Community Action, BSC's service-learning department. Partnering with the Bunting Center has led the chapter to focus on the quality of service rather than the number of volunteers.
Following the April 2011 tornadoes, Habitat Birmingham partnered with the Central Alabama Long-Term Recovery Committee to help effected communities begin to recovery from the disaster. Mrs. Taylor was one of many Alabamians who lost their home in Pratt City. She was also one of the many Alabamians who benefited from the work of Habitat, which organized a build in partnership with the American Institute of Architects, Briarwood Christian School, Central Alabama Long- Term Recovery Committee, State Farms Insurance, and Birmingham-Southern. Mrs. Taylor moved into her new home in spring 2012.
BSC’s Habitat for Humanity chapter also sponsored a build for Reece Johnson, who was born and raised in Birmingham with two sisters and two brothers. She graduated from Carver High in 2001 and currently works as a document coordinator at Zarzaur & Schwartz and as a cashier at Western Supermarket. Reece plans to return to school to become a surgical technician and eventually marry and start a family. She enjoys reading, cooking, and watching TV in her spare time. “Owning a home is going to change my life,” Reece says. “Thank you so much for this opportunity.”
Northstar Youth Ministries
Located just across Arkadelphia Road from Birmingham-Southern, NorthStar Youth Ministries coordinates summer camps and after-school programs for children from the College Hills neighborhood and surrounding areas. NorthStar is committed to providing low- to moderate-income families with enrichment opportunities equal to those available to children in high-income areas. Year-round activities include art classes, soccer programs, and access to a community ecoscape.
Service opportunities at NorthStar include:
- assisting once or twice a week with soccer teams for children ranging from under 6-years-old to 12-years-old
- teaching afterschool art classes
- planning and facilitating community service days to improve the ecoscape and other environmentally themed areas
Oak Knoll Health and Rehabilitation Center
Oak Knoll Health & Rehabilitation Center serves men and women from across Alabama who need care beyond that offered in assisted living programs. Some patients stay for a few months of rehabilitation while others are permanent residents.
Members of the Oak Knoll community look forward to spending time with Birmingham-Southern students. Volunteers play games, read, play the piano for sing-alongs, or simply visit with the residents. The Bunting Center has also coordinated special events for Oak Knoll residents, such as a trip to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
Piper Place Day Program
Every weekday from 9AM-2PM, adults with mental disabilities are invited to take part in a socialization and friendship program at Piper Place. Piper Place aims to create a safe, nurturing environment where mentally ill men and women can gather and learn. Activities include group exercise, interaction, and therapy.
BSC psychology students work at Piper Place as volunteers, visiting for an hour or so each week and helping with meals and group activities, or interacting with the “consumers” as part of their socialization practice.
For more information, visit http://www.crisiscenterbham.com/programs.php
Located near BSC in West End, Urban Kids at Urban Ministry is an after-school program for children ages 8-12. If offers various enrichment activities that encourage academic achievement as well as spiritual and character development. At Urban Kids, students from low-income backgrounds have a safe, structured, and nurturing environment where they can learn and develop meaningful relationships with peers, staff and volunteers.
BSC students can volunteer at Urban Kids from Monday to Thursday from 3:30-6:00 pm. Volunteers assist with homework, listen to students read, help with activities, and spend quality time with students. Students are encouraged to go regularly each week, so that the students know them well, and are comfortable with them.
The director of Urban Kids is Kuryne Lee. She joined the staff in the spring of 2012, and has made many beneficial changes to the structure of Urban Kids that have helped the program grow and develop.
In order to volunteer with Urban Kids you must fill out a background check. Please visit http://www.ministryopportunities.org/urbanministry to do so.