Students gathered at The Rock Plaza Saturday morning to kick off the Butler Center for Service and Leadership’s annual Orientation Outreach day of service. Orientation Outreach is the first service day of the academic year at the University of Miami, aiming to introduce and integrate new students into the greater Miami community while inspiring them to continue giving back throughout their college career.
This year, students traveled to Little Haiti to assist North East 2nd Avenue Partnership in beautifying the Little Haiti Cultural Center and the surrounding community. The center provides a space for people to promote and support Afro-Caribbean culture in South Florida. North East 2nd Avenue Partnership is a nonprofit committed to revitalizing Little Haiti by creating a cultural identity for the community and increasing economic opportunities.
“No matter where Haitians live throughout South Florida, this is where they come and buy things they won’t find at the average Publix,” said executive director of North East 2nd Avenue Partnership Joann Milord, a UM alum.
The Butler Center changed the format of Orientation Outreach from volunteers going to multiple locations to volunteers staying at one location and completing multiple projects.
“It’s nice that we all came together and helped out a community. We had a more collaborative effort this year than last year,” said sophomore Chelsea Jocelyn.
“We chose Little Haiti because they had so many projects that directly impacted their citizens here,” said junior Kayla Derby, a first year engagement coordinator for the Butler Center.
One of the projects consisted of turning oil drums into trash cans. Volunteers painted the oil drums in the Haitian flag, welcoming people to Little Haiti.
“This a really good, long term sustainable impact to build off of. It’s not just enough to pick up trash, but now we have something to put it in,” said senior Patrick Quinlan, a site leader for Orientation Outreach.
The choice of location provided students an opportunity to experience a community outside of Coral Gables.
“I’ve heard of Little Haiti, but in the three years I’ve been here I haven’t been outside of Coral Gables besides South Beach. So it’s nice to see a different part of Miami, especially since I’m Haitian,” said junior Anthonia Moore. “Sometimes, being on a college campus, it shelters you. It’s important if you live in this city, you should know what this city is like. Everybody should reach out to other parts of the city of Miami, because we are the University of Miami, not the University of Coral Gables.”
Milord hopes students understand that Miami is truly a melting pot from Little Havana to Little Haiti and that they fall in love with giving back to communities. The Little Haiti Cultural Center host events daily. For information, visit them online. For more volunteer opportunities, visit the Butler Center.