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community engagement


“It is extremely humbling to be Chair. Blount County is well known for its level of community/citizen engagement and its capacity for collaboration and cooperation. There is so much talent and so much heart in our community. United Way of Blount County is just one example of a community organization that thrives thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who give their talents and treasure in service to others.”

As Chair, what are you looking forward to this year?

Our board recently committed to two primary agenda items for 2017: (1) our continuing support behind another successful annual campaign and (2) the implementation of a pilot initiative (CLS Club) designed to increase the engagement of young professionals who work in Blount County with United Way of Blount County. The former objective takes care of today while the latter objective supports our future.

What makes the United Way of Blount County special?

That’s easy to answer – it’s the organization mission and all of the people involved!

United Way of Blount County advances the common good by supporting programs that help kids succeed, strengthen and support families, promote self-sufficiency, improve people’s health, and protect community well-being. We strongly believe that we can accomplish more than any single group can on its own. Our mantra is LIVE UNITED!

Last year, 256 organizations and 6,183 donors contributed $2,041,000. These campaign dollars are allocated to over 40 community based programs sponsored by 28 nonprofit, partner agencies.

And then there are all the people involved in one role or another. It starts with our extraordinary staff under the leadership of Jennifer Wackerhagen. We have wonderful board and committee members who are dedicated to excellence in governance, ethics, diversity, financial accountability, and transparency. From 2012-17, United Way of Blount County has received the highest 4-star rating for exceptional transparency and accountability from Charity Navigator.

Our partner agencies are equally dedicated to the quality of specific programs and services in support of their clients’ needs. They, too, are made up of very talented and committed people.

And the list can go on . . .

How did you become involved with the organization?

I worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for 30 years. As a quasi-federal agency, TVA participated in the annual Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) which is similar to United Way. The TVA workforce was very engaged in this annual CFC campaign. As a senior manager, I felt it important to model support for the CFC so I was always personally involved.

Once I retired from TVA, it was a natural fit for me to become more involved in United Way of Blount County where I live. I made my interest known and started participating on allocation panels and the Community Impact Committee. Within a couple of years, I was invited to join the Board of Directors.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville sponsors an annual Community Chest campaign (yet another version of a United Way). I encourage faculty and staff to be engaged in this campaign and/or in their local United Way campaigns.


As the 2017 Chair, Hammon gave the closing remarks at the United Way of Blount County Annual Meeting on Friday, January 20. During this speech, she spoke of their initiative – the CLS Club.

The purpose of the CLS Club is to develop young professionals through engagement with United Way of Blount County and by connecting, leading, and serving in our community. We are using an employer-based club model. Arconic, Denso, and Clayton have committed to establishing clubs in their organizations during this pilot year.

Identified club members will participate in monthly lunch meetings throughout 2017. During these gatherings, we will orient them to United Way’s mission, partnerships, and processes for raising funds, allocating resources, and serving our community. To bring an experiential feature to their learning, each club is being allocated $5,000. They will go through their own mini process of vetting grants, allocating money, and monitoring outcomes. They will be encouraged to engage in our annual campaign in some manner of their choosing. Ultimately, we hope some of the club members will exercise more formal leadership in United Way of Blount County by participating on allocation panels, serving on committees, or joining our board.


Casey Barrio-Minton

 

Casey A. Barrio Minton
Associate Professor
Co-Faculty Advisor of Upsilon Theta

 

What is Upsilon Theta all about?
Our chapter is one of nearly 300 active chapters around the world with a dedication to promoting strong professional identity and recognizing excellence among counseling students, professional counselors, and counselor educators. In addition to recognizing excellence among our members, our chapter seeks to promote excellence and sense of community in our program. We have ongoing professional development events (workshops), community engagement projects (e.g., service to Ronald McDonald House and Odd Fellows Cemetery), and social events (e.g., tailgate, family bowling night). Our members also participate in CSI international programs including essay contests, leadership development programs, awards, and grants.

How do you define the role of the faculty advisor?
I see the role of the faculty advisor as mentoring students in their leadership development and ensuring consistency or stability for the chapter. Although the work of the chapter is most often done by students, students may be fairly new in their leadership development, and they often are in the chapter only one or two years prior to graduation. The chapter adviser, then, can help student leaders understand what it means to be in CSI, understand chapter history, and create their own priorities and programs within the mission of the organization. The faculty advisor also serves as a bridge or liaison to the program faculty about the happenings of the chapter and ways to support our students’ development outside of the classroom. CFAs also have access to CSI headquarters and support, so we can make sure the chapter stays in compliance with bylaws — on things like elections procedures, finances, and reporting.

How do you envision the future of Upsilon Theta?
Upsilon Theta has a strong past and a solid future. Our programs are well-attended and growing. Our student leaders frequently participate in CSI International programs and have a chance to network with other professional counselors around the country. In the years to come, I am excited to see how the chapter extends its community engagement activities and finds creative ways to recognize excellence among our members.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
CSI has been an instrumental part of my development as a counselor and counselor educator. I believe strongly that chapters help develop strong advocates and leaders for the program. I am honored to be a part of this community.


Everett Painter

 

Everett Painter
PhD Student in Counselor Education
President of Upsilon Theta

 

What has been the most rewarding/challenging experience as the president?
The most rewarding aspect is working in collaboration with peers and faculty to create initiatives and activities on behalf of the chapter. We are an active, service oriented chapter and it’s a very meaningful experience to assist students in the work we do. It takes a true group effort to accomplish our tasks. The most challenging is always the planning.

How else have you been involved in the chapter?
I previously served the chapter as president-elect and treasurer. I also do what I can to promote CSI to others. And I was selected by CSI to be a Leadership Intern for the coming year. This will have benefits for the chapter.

What is Upsilon Theta all about?
We recognize excellence in counseling at academic and professional levels. Beyond that, we are service oriented and feel we have a responsibility to contribute to our fellow students, the department, and our community. Activities that serve that purpose generally involve social, workshop, and service oriented events.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
It’s a privilege to work with my peers within the context of a department that is so supportive. Because of that support and encouragement, we are able to do what we do and are actively looking at how we can grow the chapter, increase our activities, and explore new opportunities.


Shawn Spurgeon

 

Shawn Spurgeon
Associate Professor
Co-Faculty Advisor of Upsilon Theta

 

What is Upsilon Theta all about?
We focus on two aspects of development for our students: academic excellence and interdependence with the community. We participate in projects related to community enhancement and focus our efforts on collaborating with organizations in the community to develop programming that supports the community’s efforts to grow and develop.

How do you define the role of the faculty advisor?
My role is to provide support, direction, and challenge to the leadership group. I consider myself to be a collaborator, guide, and support person. I see the students as an integral part of the community so I focus my energy on helping them build relationships with each other and with the community. There are times when I need to be more directive in planning and programming but even in those moments I tend to allow for processing and input as well.

What has been the most rewarding/challenging experience as the faculty advisor?
The most rewarding aspect of my role as faculty advisor has been the growth of the students and growth of the chapter. We have worked hard to develop a great relationship with the community and now I think the next step is to develop a national presence for our chapter in the international organization. The most challenging aspect of the experience is helping students balance time between their commitment to Upsilon Theta and their commitment to academic excellence in service to their future clients.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work with students and to see them grow and develop as leaders. Upsilon Theta has grown by leaps and bounds and it will continue to be an integral part of the UT community.


Nathan West

 

Nathan West
PhD Student in Counselor Education
President-Elect of Upsilon Theta

 

How else have you been involved in the chapter?
My induction into CSI was in early 2015, so I was a member for the spring semester before beginning the president-elect role last summer. I have attended several social, service, and educational events since I started at UT in the fall 2014 semester. I have not had a lot of specific responsibilities as president-elect, as my primary goal has been to learn the ropes in preparation for the upcoming year. I have been involved as a general member of the executive council, which meets throughout the year to plan, review, and maintain chapter issues and events. I have also been in charge of taking and collecting pictures of CSI events for a year-in-review slideshow that is a part of our final event at the end of the spring semester.

What is Upsilon Theta all about?
I think the chapter is about connection and service. Being in Upsilon Theta brings opportunities for connection beyond what is possible in class time alone. From what I have experienced and heard from others, I believe this connectedness can help counselor education feel like more than just “school.” I think socializing in a context where the common bond is the counseling profession helps students learn more about their identity as members of the field. It also helps students sort of place themselves amongst the larger themes and goals of the profession as a whole, particularly when it comes to matters like counseling values and social advocacy. I know this has been true for me. This chapter provides those connective opportunities and works to channel toward a common goal of making a positive impact on the community.

Upsilon Theta provides this atmosphere through a variety of activities. At the beginning of each fall semester there is an informal “kick-off” event that gives everyone a chance to spend time together and welcome new members. Other social events throughout the year (such as an annual tailgating party, typically hosted by a faculty member, on a Saturday in the fall) help to continue social bonds in our program. Service events further that same goal of cohesiveness while focusing our efforts on connecting with and supporting the community in some way. This year members of Upsilon Theta have been a part of service at the Ronald McDonald House and the Odd Fellows Cemetery here in Knoxville. A third focus of our chapter is ongoing professional education and training. Each year we have training events/seminars designed to benefit counseling students and local professionals. Those are three ways that goals are put into action in our chapter of CSI: social, service, and education.

How do you envision the future of Upsilon Theta?
I think that the chapter has a lot of momentum right now, as participation has been strong and energy has been high this year. This has been particularly true for service-oriented events. I hope that we can build on that momentum and continue to strengthen ties with the community. Beyond events directly focused on community service, I think one way to do that will be to maintain involvement with practicing counselors in the area. In the past, CSI has teamed up with local counseling organizations to provide resources such as professional training seminars. I think continuing those types of events and continually finding new ways for CSI and local counselors to work together will be an important focus for the future.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I have been really impressed by the hard work and know-how demonstrated by the executive council this year. Having seen the initiative and quality work of everyone around me, I feel both intimidated and excited as I start to think about my roles, tasks, and shoe-filling in the year ahead.


Members of the Upsilon Theta Executive Council serve one-year terms. Other officers serving out the 2015-16 year include:

Past-President:
Secretary:
Treasurer:
Member-at-Large:
Workshop Chair:
Service Chair:
Social Committee Chair:
Public Relations Chair:

Brittany Pollard
Lindsay Bock
Amanda DeDiego
Emily Brown
Mary Frances Street
Kevin Webster
Nina Morgan
Anna Lora Taylor


Upsilon Theta also celebrated its CSI Induction Ceremony earlier this year. Photos from this event can be found on the EPC Facebook page.


University-Assisted Community Schools (UACS) won a three-year $100,000 grant (totaling $300,000) from the United Way of Greater Knoxville.

Bob Kronick“The grants were competitive and we got ours through hard work among the collaborative team.” – Bob Kronick, director of UACS

 

The grant was written by Bob Kronick, professor and director of UACS, Mark Benson, school coordinator of UACS, and Dareen Basma, Counselor Education PhD student. Through Catholic Charities of East Tennessee, United Way will award UACS a total of $300,000 over a three-year period.

UACS is an initiative to address unmet social, economic, and academic needs of Knoxville students and community members. They have two full-service community schools, one at Pond Gap Elementary School and a newer one at Inskip Elementary School. Funds from this grant will largely be used to hire staff to support the efforts at Inskip. The mission of UACS is to “create challenging learning opportunities for students to excel by providing a nurturing environment supported by the family, community, staff, and students.”


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Jennifer Ann Morrow, ESM Program Coordinator, and Brittany Daulton, ESM PhD Candidate, have teamed up to win one of only seven Outreach Incentive Grants at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

 

Outreach Incentive Grants are awarded annually from the Office of Community Engagement and Outreach through a competitive process. The Chancellor provides special funding to allocate to proposals selected on the basis of community projects or partnerships that promote the principles of engagement as applied to teaching/learning, research, or outreach. Grant recipients utilize funds to connect UT and local communities in a mutually beneficial relationship.

Morrow and Daulton’s grant will fund a project to partner the Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement program with the Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Knoxville. This partnership has two overarching goals that align with the principles of engagement: 1) to collect needs assessment data addressing community members’ perceptions regarding Knoxville’s TCAT and 2) to enhance the evaluation and assessment training of ESM doctoral and certificate students. It will be a mutually beneficial collaboration, enabling ESM student to gain hands-on, real-world experience and providing TCAT with important data informing them of perceptions regarding their programs and gaps in their services.

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Specifically, Morrow and Daulton plan to conduct a comprehensive community needs assessment addressing three main objectives: 1) what community members know about their local TCAT, 2) what their needs are for training and educational offerings at their local TCAT, and 3) what barriers impede them from attending and/or earning a certificate at TCAT.

Their completed project report titled “A Collaborative Partnership Between the Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement Program and Knoxville’s Tennessee College of Applied Technology” will be posted on the Office of Community Engagement and Outreach website in the fall of 2015. Also on their site is a complete list of winners and additional information.

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Educational Psychology & Counseling Department
College of Education, Health & Human Sciences

535 Bailey Education Complex
1122 Volunteer Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37996-3452
Phone: 865-974-8145 Fax: 865-974-0135