More than 200 students gathered on Miami Law’s central courtyard, “The Bricks,” early in the morning on Thursday, August 14, to participate in the University of Miami School of Law's 15th annual HOPE Day of Service. On this day new and returning Miami Law students made their way to 14 different sites across Miami-Dade County, including Virginia Key, Homestead, Hialeah and South Miami where student volunteers served at parks, environmental clean ups, animal rescue missions, health care centers, and preschools.
Each volunteer site was staffed with a team of site leaders - upper-division students ready and willing to share advocacy opportunities with the volunteers and inspire them to take advantage of all of the wonderful hands-on public interest opportunities while at Miami Law.
Every year, HOPE Day of Service kicks off new student orientation, with over 75% of incoming 1L law students showing their character by choosing to give back even before they even start law school.
“HOPE Day provided the Class of 2017 with the opportunity to do hands-on work in the community prior to starting law school,” said Marni Lennon, Assistant Dean for Public Interest and Pro Bono and director of HOPE. “Our students were enthusiastic and set the tone for a wonderful school year while demonstrating Miami Law’s commitment to making a difference.”
Students signing up for HOPE Day listed their preferred service site and the HOPE Day committee matched them to one of the 14 sites city-wide.
“HOPE Day of Service is important for the students because it is a reminder that a few short hours of volunteering can make a huge difference in the community,” said Lauren Georgalas, site leader for Citizens for a Better South Florida, a community-based environmental organization . “As a site leader I loved seeing all of the new students and hearing about their fears of the first year of law school. I had the same fears not too long ago so it was nice to be able to share my experiences with them and remind them that they are not alone.”
In addition to benefiting the Miami-Dade community, students can log their community service hour on the HOPE website, which is a great way to jump start a student's HOPE Community Challenge. Students who complete 25 hours of community service each year are recognized annually at the Spring Reception. In addition, students are encouraged to sign on to the HOPE Pro Bono Challenge, which recognizes legal advocacy and engagement on a pro bono basis. Students who complete the Pro Bono Challenge, 75 hours of pro bono service before graduation, are recognized at graduation and a receive transcript notation.
"I am sure you have heard the phrase, ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’ That is the absolute truth, and HOPE Day embodies that principle,” said Brendan Corrigan, 3L and site leader for Fisher House, a “home away from home" for families of Veterans and military service members receiving care at the Bruce W. Carter VA Medical Center. “There is no better time to start than by giving back to your community during HOPE Day of Service."
The day was organized by HOPE, Miami Law's Public Interest Resource Center, which serves as the law school’s central hub helping students find way to use advocacy to afford access to justice and providing opportunities for law students to participate in pro bono and community service events.