Brenau students from left to right, Lily Li, Britney Powe, Jocelyn Heng, Lavender Qin, Rachel Pei, Ayana Daniels, Nia Griffin, Chyna Thomas, Shelly Restificar, Diamond Wood, Jasmine Brewster, Sara Jane Bowers and Qualencia Wiggles pose for a photo after volunteering to serve hot meals at Good News at Noon on Good Friday. The meals were donated by Aramark. (Photo/Mike Lochstampfor)
Brenau students from left to right, Lily Li, Britney Powe, Jocelyn Heng, Lavender Qin, Rachel Pei, Ayana Daniels, Nia Griffin, Chyna Thomas, Shelly Restificar, Diamond Wood, Jasmine Brewster, Sara Jane Bowers and Qualencia Wiggles pose for a photo after volunteering to serve hot meals at Good News at Noon on Good Friday. The meals were donated by Aramark. (Photo/Mike Lochstampfor)

Student-Athletes Donate Time, Food to Local Shelter Residents

May. 10, 2017
Kristen Oliver

Brenau University student-athletes keep busy schedules between classes, practices and games, but they make time amid it all to give back to the local community.

Each year, the university’s Student Athletic Advisory Committee takes on a conference-wide project. Last year, student-athletes raised money for the Blood Water Initiative and this year they tackled the Stop Hunger Project by providing hot meals on Good Friday, April 14, through Good News at Noon, a Gainesville shelter that provides daily meals and distributes weekly groceries.

“I was in an editorial and feature writing class last semester that created a publication called Facing Homelessness in Gainesville & Hall County,” said committee president Jasmine Brewster, a senior mass communication major and member of the Golden Tigers soccer team from London, England. “We made connections with homeless shelters, the food bank and people who had personally faced hunger. So we got back in touch with those contacts, and we chose to work with Good News at Noon because they serve hot meals, and it was simple for us to get our food provider, Aramark, to bring hot meals to them.”

About 15 student volunteers, including athletes, non-athletes and several students from China spent Good Friday serving the meals at the shelter along with Aramark volunteers. More than 50 meals were provided.

Student volunteers included, as pictured above, Lily Li, senior from Wuhu, China; Britney Powe, senior from Mableton, Georgia; Jocelyn Heng, senior from Wuhu, China; Lavender Qin, senior from Wuhu, China; Rachel Pei, senior from Wuhu, China; Ayana Daniels, junior from Snellville, Georgia; Nia Griffin, junior from Stockbridge, Georgia; Chyna Thomas, freshman from Atlanta, Georgia; Shelly Restificar, senior from Rock Hill, South Carolina; Diamond Wood, junior from Decatur, Georgia; Jasmine Brewster, senior from London, England; Sara Jane Bowers, senior from Statesboro, Georgia; and Qualencia Wiggles, freshman from Riverdale, Georgia.

“It was a great opportunity for the students at Brenau to give back and help their community,” said Allie Smith, senior mass communication major from Pace, Florida, and member of the Golden Tigers volleyball team. “That is the spirit of Brenau. Our university ideal asks us ‘to be prepared to service, thereby earning the right to be served.’ I think it’s especially important for the student-athletes to give back, because we represent such a large part of the university.”

The Student Athletic Advisory Committee formed last year to connect students from the 14 different athletic teams on campus and provide leadership and resources to all student-athletes.

“We wanted to have something that allows each team to come together to voice concerns and create a better go-between from academics to athletics,” Brewster said. “So you have a resource if someone on your team is having an issue on campus or, let’s say, needs help scheduling an early test with a teacher around a game. As a committee we have at least one person from every team that can take what we discussed back to their team and relay the message.”

The committee members include Brewster and Smith; Madilynn Peck, senior from Gainesville, Georgia, on the competitive dance team; Felicia Gordon, junior from Monticello, Georgia, on the cross country team; Autumn Dodson, senior from Jefferson City, Tennessee, on the basketball team; Micah Rhodes, senior from Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia, on the competitive cheerleading team; Ella Kleinschmidt, senior from Queensland, Australia, on the swim team; Mason Garland, senior from Hoschton, Georgia, on the softball team; Patricia Recalde Pacua, senior from San Lorenzo, Paraguay, on the tennis team; Ismaelle Occeus, senior from Lawrenceville, Georgia, on the track and field team; and Sara Jane Bowers, senior from Statesboro, Georgia, on the golf team.

Brewster and Smith are also on the Southern States Athletic Conference Leadership Council. Two members from each school in the conference sit in on a monthly call to discuss concerns or things that can be improved within the conference.

Smith said it was the monthly conference calls that inspired the women to form the Brenau committee. “Many other schools talked about having an advisory council made up of athletes,” she said. “So we took it to our athletic director, Mike Lochstampfor, and here we are now with a successful Brenau athletic advisory committee. This committee is important, because it brings together the leaders of each team to work as one to better our athletics, our school and even our community.”

Brewster said the leadership council sets the annual conference-wide project each fall.

“Last year it was about providing clean water, and we took on a project facing that,” she said. “This year it was about hunger, and that’s how we came to work with Good News at Noon. As a student-athlete, I can say it was great and refreshing to get out in our city and give back to those less fortunate than we are, especially on Good Friday.”

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