Hurricanes Help the Hometown sweeps local community

Early Saturday morning, 521 students showed up at school to volunteer for Hurricanes Help the Hometown, an annual volunteer effort during Homecoming in which students go out and give back to the local community.

Students were assigned to one of 27 groups to perform volunteer activities such as cleaning up a park or neighborhood.

Although most students did not mind how they were randomly placed into sites, some students said they felt this process discouraged people from volunteering.

“If somebody has never volunteered before and went to Hurricanes Help the Hometown, they wouldn’t want to volunteer again because they don’t match people with their interests,” said Astin Hayes, sophomore, who was assigned to the Association for Retarded Citizens. “It defeats the purpose of volunteering.”

Other students, however, said that Hurricanes Help the Hometown is the perfect opportunity to introduce people into volunteering here in Miami because it is convenient and brings students together.

“Hurricanes Help the Hometown is a great way for University of Miami students to get involved in the Miami community,” said Aaron Carter, junior and United Homecare Service site leader. “Hopefully what starts as a one-time thing for some people turns into a long term commitment.”

This year’s organizing and planning committee included seniors Paco Castellon, Villamor Asuncion, Shannon Ashfor, Alexa Cottman and Minal Ahson.

Azure Ashby, coordinator for Butler Volunteer Services Center, said that having to schedule the event after Halloween was detrimental to the number of participants. Only 521 students showed up out of the 1,181 students who signed up.

“Aside from the fact that it was after Halloween, the day went really well,” Ashby said.

Ashby attributed the success to the effectiveness of the committee members.

Students who participated in the volunteer effort were excited about going out and making a difference in the community.

“I volunteered hoping to get a deeper appreciation for the community and get a better understanding of my surroundings,” said Joseph Valbrum, sophomore, who volunteered at Deering Estates.

“Providing service for the community brings a certain reward that only the individual giving back can truly appreciate,” said Saran Stewart, junior, who volunteered at Barnacle State Park site. “Hurricanes Help the Hometown unites the students of UM with a common goal in mind- to give back to the community.”

For more information on Hurricanes Help the Hometown or how to get involved, contact the Butler Volunteer Services Center at 305-284-GIVE.

Erin Wright can be contacted at