Volunteer Internationale

Sullivan alum Nolan Moore still carrying the torch of volunteerism two years on

In 2014, when Nolan Moore was graduating from The Citadel with a major in history, he’d already amassed quite a service resume. His efforts included travels to Sri Lanka and Guatemala, where he worked on English language learning and youth engagement. Those efforts were recognized with a Sullivan Award (and a spotlight in the second issue of Engage).

In the two years since, Moore has served in the Army—he’s currently conducting training at Fort Polk in preparation for an upcoming deployment as a member of the 101st Airborne Division.

Moore’s volunteering projects aren’t always globetrotting affairs—he’s also worked with children in his home state of South Carolina. Through the Greater Tee First Charleston program, he’s helped young people learn life lessons and build character using golf as a launching pad.

For Moore, the experience of helping others is just as rewarding as it is challenging.

“What motivates me to volunteer is being able to know that I am able to affect families, dreams and future generations,” he says. “I want to be an example and mentor that people are able to look up to. The feeling of knowing that I made someone’s day just by teaching them something new or making them laugh for a moment is extremely amazing.”

A lot of the travel Moore has undertaken has been through the International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ), an organization that strives to make travel affordable for people who wish to volunteer overseas. The IVHQ also gives out a volunteer award each year. Out of twelve finalists from the USA, Canada, and New Zealand, Moore was voted the 2016 IVHQ Volunteer of the Year.

In addition to the honor, IVHQ will also provide Moore with yet another chance to serve—in the form of a travel voucher to help him get to his next project. IVHQ helped him get to Kenya to teach English back in 2012, where he developed a passion for sharing the language with students. He plans to use the voucher to return to Africa and continue that work.

Moore’s devotion to serving others made him a shining example of what it means to become a Sullivan Award recipient. Now, with his continued commitment, he’s become a shining example of what it means to be a Sullivan Award alum.

A Transformational Experience

Coker College’s Jubilee Smith earns a Sullivan Award through determination and compassion

Coker College wasn’t originally a part of Jubilee Smith’s life plan. The Greenwood, South Carolina native envisioned herself going somewhere far from home—not the 150 miles to Hartsville, where Coker is located. However, it turned out to be a move that would lead to academic success, a lifelong commitment to serving others, and, finally, a Sullivan Award—she was one of two from Coker for 2016.

Her dedication easily caught the eyes of campus faculty and administrators.

“Jubilee is a conscientious young woman who cares deeply about the quality of life in this community and beyond,” says Tracy Parkinson, Provost and Dean of the college. “Her commitment to service has always been unquestionable as she has sought opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others.”

While Smith didn’t see her life taking the path it has so far, she certainly recognizes the depth of the transformation she’s undergone.

“Never in a million years did I think Coker would change my life the way it did,” she says.

Discovering her best self

Coker College has a unique academic and social curriculum for its students: the Trans4mations program, which guides students through a personalized sequence of experiences designed to help them discover their best selves.

Smith is truly a Trans4mations success story—just reading her list of involvements and accomplishments can be overwhelming. She was named a Sparrow Scholar, recognizing her for making life-changing differences by immersing herself in the community and focusing energy where it’s needed most.

“Jubilee has been an outstanding student leader as a Sparrow Scholar and president of the student organization F.A.N.G.S. Freely and Nobly Giving Service (Coker’s mascot is the Cobras),” says Darlene Small, Assistant Dean and director of Trans4mations at Coker College. “She has sought out experiences and helped to develop programs that have had a tremendous impact on the community. She is truly the epitome of service above self.”

Starting big by taking on hunger

Smith’s first Sparrow Scholar project focused on eliminating campus waste by feeding Hartsville’s hungry. She started a Hartsville chapter of the Food Recovery Network (FRN), which donates leftover food from the college’s dining hall to the local soup kitchen.

The FRN is the largest student movement against food waste and hunger in America. In the fall of 2015, the organization recovered its one-millionth pound of food, a milestone that Coker College got to celebrate along with 160 other participating schools across the country.

“I was in the dining hall one day when lunch was ending, and there was this pan of chicken that had not even been touched,” Smith recalls. “I was thinking, ‘There are hungry people in Hartsville who could be eating this food.’”

There was a lot of red tape to get through before FRN could become a reality.

“It literally took a whole semester for me to get everything down so that we could actually start,” Smith says. “I almost gave up, but after a lot of tugging and pulling, I got a lot of yesses and it finally happened.”

Four times a week, Smith and a small handful of dedicated volunteers transport the leftover food from the dining hall to the soup kitchen. They weigh the food and refrigerate it for the soup kitchen to use as the next day’s meal.

Persistent service

But despite the success of her first project, Smith didn’t stop there. For her second project, she created the Lunch Buddy Program, which teaches vital life and language skills to elementary school children. The project operates with six dedicated volunteers spending lunchtime on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays with students at four area elementary schools: Thornwell School for the Arts, Washington Street Elementary, West Hartsville Elementary, and Southside Early Childhood Center.

“It’s developed to help students improve and develop their social skills,” says Smith, “whether it’s how they communicate with adults or how they communicate with each other.”

To create Lunch Buddy, Smith collaborated with the TEACH Foundation, a local education nonprofit.

“Smith’s Lunch Buddy project is a perfect fit for the Hartsville elementary schools in the TEACH Foundation’s PULSE initiative,” says Sharman Poplava, Executive Director of the TEACH Foundation. “Her project focuses on child development using the ‘social’ and ‘language’ pathways of the Comer School Development Program. She reached out into the community to create a partnership that will have a lasting impact.”

After her December graduation, Smith is hoping to participate in Teach for America while, at the same time, working toward her master’s degree in human service and counseling. She wants to be a Supreme Court justice.

A humble farewell

Smith attributes much of her success over the last four years to her alma mater.

“I tell people all the time that the things I’ve done at Coker, I would never have gotten those opportunities at any other school,” says Smith.

Her story is certainly a testament to the quality of her school, but, like at all Sullivan schools, quality students like Smith are ultimately what sustains and strengthens an institution’s commitment to service. As she moves on in life as a college graduate and a Sullivan alumna, she hopes to offer the things she’s learned at Coker to others who may need to hear her story.

“Circumstance is your best teacher,” says Smith. “When I work with kids, I let them know that you do not have to be defined by your circumstances. Life has been my biggest teacher and my biggest encourager. Success with no struggle is no success at all.”

 

This article is adapted from an article by Elizabeth Coxe Hubbard, Media Relations Coordinator, Coker College.