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Project 225

Cultivating Relationships with Community + Long-term Service = Project 225
Project 225

Project 225 students planting a garden at Oak Park Plaza

“Short-term or episodic volunteering–the one-day thing–is great, but typically in those cases, you do services toa community, not witha community,” said Cindy Seghers, MSW, Director of Career Development. “With long-term sustainable service through Project 225, we are doing service with the community and cultivating the relationships not only with community partners, but with residents themselves, who are recipients of the services, and that’s really important.”

It is difficult to understand the challenges facing any community without working closely with people who live and work in that community. Project 225 is a new student-run program (with oversight from Seghers and Granger Babcock, Ph. D., associate dean) that offers Ogden Honors students the opportunity to get involved with the community through long-term service. Instead of episodic volunteering and service, Project 225 students cultivate relationships with community members and non-profits and are able to continually make a difference in the Baton Rouge community.It creates opportunities for Ogden Honors College students to explore and understand the challenges facing our most vulnerable neighbors. 

“What we want is for our students to understand and really embrace the fact that they are part of this community,” said Seghers. “This is their community.”

Project 225 began as the Honors College Freshman Service Project, as a way to encourage freshman year theme of service by hosting a large-scale service project for new and continuing Honors students. The project sought to create a sense of community among honors students while simultaneously connecting them to the community beyond LSU. Over time, Dr. Babcock, Seghers, and Ogden Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle, Ph. D, believed it was necessary to provide ongoing opportunities for meaningful service for Ogden Honors students. So Project 225 was created to offer varied and sustained opportunities.

After just a year of formation, Project 225 has already developed relationships with four community partners: McKinley High School, the St. Bernard Project in Baton Rouge, Volunteers of America, and Volunteers in Public Schools. Through working with Volunteers of America, the students created a relationship and service project with Oak Park Plaza, an affordable housing complex for low-income senior citizens.

“We collaborate with the residents on how we can enhance their community,” said William Boles III, Project 225 student director and senior microbiology major. “Oak Plaza is in the middle of a food desert, so we planted vegetables we had donated from another project.”

With projects such as Oak Park Plaza and rebuilding homes for those affected by the 2016 flood, Dr. Babcock said the students realized that there are a lot of vulnerable people in this community who do not have the resources or the opportunity that many of our students have had.

“Economics are completely different; social positions are completely different, so there’s a lot of learning that goes on about those relationships,” said Dr. Babcock.

“Project 225 shows that the Honors College values service, and it’s not just a one-off thing; it requires commitment,” Boles said. “It requires a continual trust with the community that can’t always be maintained with episodic events. There’s something to be said for making the Honors College a leader in the community, a representative of the community in multiple aspects with that long-term component.”

Boles hopes the diversity of interaction with the community continues and expands.

Project 225 is open to all Ogden Honors students and has a diverse array of projects to join. For more information on Project 225, contact Cindy Seghers at cseghers@lsu.eduor Dr. Granger Babcock at fbabco1@lsu.edu