Ouachita Baptist University’s Elrod Center for Family and Community will host Tiger Serve Day on April 7. The semi-annual event is held every spring and fall semester and allows Ouachita students, faculty and staff to volunteer together to serve the surrounding community.
“One of the most important values of Ouachita is service,” explained Ian Cosh, Ouachita vice president for community and international engagement. “We have it on our university seal (vision, integrity, service), which illustrates how central we believe service is to faith and learning.”
“Tiger Serve Day is important because service is an important part of the culture at Ouachita,” said Judy Duvall, associate director of the Elrod Center. “It’s part of our DNA and a great way for students at our university to live out their faith. This day bridges the gap between our campus and the community.
“Students get to be a part of the lives of community residents as they interact and serve in very practical and relational ways,” she added. “And the community is able to benefit from the help our volunteers are able to give and the relationships that are formed.”
“I think students should get involved in Tiger Serve Day because it truly gives you a different perspective on Arkadelphia,” explained Adam Graves, a senior Christian studies major from Texarkana, Texas, and a member of the Tiger Serve Day Leadership Team. “When you get to meet the people and hear the stories of this town, you truly get to appreciate this community more.”
This year marks the 22nd year Tiger Serve Day has been held. The event was conceived after Cosh and several other administrators looked for a way to encourage campus-wide service throughout the community. More than two decades later, 60 percent of members on Ouachita’s campus typically come together to serve twice a year.
“Tiger Serve Day reminds our community that there is a force for good in the world,” Duvall said. “Community residents come away from the day with the realization that they are seen and known by volunteers and that there are people who genuinely want to help.”
This year, members from First Baptist Church of Arkadelphia will serve alongside Ouachita students, faculty and staff. Although several youth groups from around the community have the opportunity to serve during Tiger Serve Day, this particular effort is spearheaded by several of the church’s deacons.
“First Baptist Church of Arkadelphia is just one block from campus and a place where many faculty and staff worship,” Cosh said. “I believe the historic tie with the campus and its close physical proximity make the connection a natural one.”
Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to sign up to volunteer. Not only does Tiger Serve Day offer an opportunity for service, but the event allows volunteers to form relationships with members of the community.
“By going out and serving on the day of Tiger Serve Day, the community is connected to Ouachita’s campus – and specifically the Elrod Center – so that we can meet any needs they might have throughout the year, not just on Tiger Serve Day,” said Madi Polk, a senior elementary education major from Wylie, Texas, and a member of the Tiger Serve Day Leadership Team. “That’s what we seek to do – form lasting relationships to continually meet spiritual and practical needs of the residents of Arkadelphia and the surrounding area!”
“I love the spirit of celebration that permeates the morning as the volunteers gather together, get their tools and head for their jobs,” Duvall said. “I love the stories they tell about the people they serve and the work they did as they return. I am always touched by the thank you’s we receive from the community. So many people are helped who are not able to do the work themselves, and certainly it is a huge cost savings to them. They are truly grateful.”
Volunteers will gather for the event at the Elrod Center at 8 a.m. for a breakfast provided by Sodexo before dividing into teams and going to their projects. Lunch for volunteers also will be provided by Sodexo and will be held at the Elrod Center at 12 noon.
Volunteers can sign up for Tiger Serve Day at obu.edu/serve. For more information, contact Judy Duvall at email@example.com or (870) 245-5320.
By Katie Smith
April 4, 2018