LSU Gives Back to Old South Baton Rouge Through Saturday-in-Service


As a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Institutions, LSU Chancellor Michael Martin knows all too well that one of the core values of a land-grant university is to be engaged in the community.

LSU, as one of 76 land-grant institutions in the United States, offers a variety of programs that focus on the university's commitment to community. One of the ways LSU gives back to the surrounding community is through its Saturday-in-Service program, which recently completed work on a home in the Old South Baton Rouge, or OSBR, community just north of the main campus.

This recurring volunteer opportunity for students, faculty, staff and administrators is coordinated by the LSU Community University Partnership, or CUP. The Saturday-in-Service program represents a partnership between LSU and the East Baton Rouge Parish Office of Community Development, or OCD, which assists in the revitalization and home ownership efforts in the community.

"Saturday-in-Service got started in 2001 after the LSU Community University Partnership received two grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to give back to the community through programs, service projects and youth initiatives," said LSU Community Affairs Liaison Brandon Smith. "We are very excited about this program. It's the longest running program that we have through the LSU CUP office. It brings students, faculty and staff to Old South Baton Rouge to fix homes and to paint homes of people in the community on fixed incomes."


Members of the LSU community painted an elderly Old South Baton Rouge resident’s home as part of Saturday-in-Service.

Sophomore Christie Duronselt took part in the recent Saturday-in-Service project as part of the Minority Science and Pre-Professional Society, or MSPPS, at LSU, which prepares minority students to apply to health-related professional schools. One of the missions of the MSPPS is a dedication to service and humanity, and the group attempts to perform at least one community service project each month.

"It's a good thing to do for the community, especially this house because it's an elderly woman who can't do it for herself, and I do live in Baton Rouge now so it's important to give back to the community," said Duronselt, a biological sciences major from Vacherie. "I think it inspires the community to see LSU students out here because we are part of the Baton Rouge community. I think it's important that they see that we are getting involved and we are helping them out."

The volunteers began their Saturday at 7:30 a.m. and spent the morning prepping, taping and painting the entire exterior of the home on East Washington Street. Similar to Duronselt, sophomore Alex Bellard was inspired to spend his Saturday helping a member of the community who was unable to complete the work on her own.

"What inspired me to come out is just helping out in the community with houses that need help and people who can't really do it for themselves; to give back," said Bellard, a mechanical engineering major from Zachary. "The students personally get the joy of helping out in the community and the fulfillment that they did their part."

In 2001, LSU CUP was awarded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Outreach Partnership Center grant. Community development and neighborhood revitalization programs, like Saturday-in-Service, were two of the original areas of focus. The East Baton Rouge Office of Community Development runs a Volunteer Housing Repair Program, which keeps a running list of homes that need minor repairs like paint. The program provides the supplies necessary to complete the repairs, including paint and ladders, but turns to volunteers for the manpower.

"We have the people power from our LSU students, faculty and staff, so we combine forces," said Smith. "We look at the homes and try our best to service homes in the 70802 zip code, which is traditionally known as Old South Baton Rouge. We go out and make site visits and pick a home."

Beyond the Community Outreach Partnership Center grant, the Saturday-in-Service program has been sustained through a partnership with the East Baton Rouge Parish Office of Community Development and Home Maintenance Improvement Program to assist those on fixed incomes.

"Since 2003, we've made a footprint on over 15 homes in this community in terms of homes that our students have painted," said Smith. "I think the community slowly but surely realizes that LSU is no passing glimmer of hope, but we are truly committed to the Old South Baton Rouge community in tangible ways. We have every intention of putting our deeds where our words are and showing our students that being a part of the LSU community means giving back."

Beginning in January 2010, LSU will mark its sesquicentennial anniversary with a year of historical reflection, celebration and commitment. The university has invited all former and future students, faculty and staff, as well as friends of LSU worldwide, to join in celebrating the university’s 150 years of excellence.

In honor of the sesquicentennial, the university will launch the LSU Serves the World initiative to honor the university’s land-grant mission, flagship status and history of military service and civic outreach. LSU invites all students, faculty, staff and alumni to participate as Serves the World hosts four signature service events, beginning with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in January, and highlights may of the university's ongoing community initiatives, like the Saturday-in-Service.

For more information on the Community University Partnership or Saturday-in-Service, please contact Smith at bsmit31@lsu.edu or visit the Web site at www.lsu.edu/cup. The Community University Partnership is a division of the LSU Office of Equity, Diversity and Community Outreach, or EDCO. For more information about the EDCO, visit www.lsu.edu/diversity.

Melissa Foley | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations
October 2009