Hayes named Volunteer of the Year

September 8, 2014
Brittney Hayes

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Brittney Hayes, a senior political science major and social and environmental justice minor at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was recently named Family Advocates Inc. Volunteer of the Year. Family Advocates is a nonprofit organization in Platteville that provides services for victims of sexual assault and family/partner abuse.

As part of the social and environmental justice minor, Hayes completed a field work project with Family Advocates. From February through July 2014, she volunteered 240 hours to provide assistance to support group members, provide assistance in the shelter, and lead learning and recreational activities for children whose parents were attending the support group. Hayes is now working 10 hours per week in a support staff position at Family Advocates.

“I love working at Family Advocates,” said Hayes. “The field work experience gave me the opportunity to help people in our community who are facing difficult challenges. Each day, as I worked with the adults and children, I actually saw the positive difference that I was making in their lives, especially the children. This project enabled me to gain valuable experience in the field I hope to work in someday. It also gave me an understanding of the possibilities that lie in front of me – there are countless ways I can help people in the future.”

“Brittney has been a huge asset to the agency,” said Darlene Masters, executive director of Family Advocates. “We value the time she dedicates to assist the clients we serve.”

Family Advocates services include a 24-hour help line, counseling, advocacy, crisis intervention, support groups, emergency shelter and more. The organization serves residents of Grant, Iowa and Lafayette counties through offices in each county. All of its services are free and confidential.

The social and environmental justice minor at UW-Platteville is designed for students who are committed to the social, ecological and moral challenges of today and who have a desire to make a constructive difference in the world. Students engage in structured study and practical fieldwork experiences that enhance the wellbeing of another people or place as well as deepen their understanding of the world.

“This field work project is an example of a successful, hands-on learning activity and active community service,” said Dr. Travis Nelson, associate professor of political science and coordinator of the social and environmental justice program at UW-Platteville. “I love that the SEJ field work projects allow students like Brittney to put their education to work for something they believe in. These experiences help both the students and the community and really lay the foundation for a lifetime of service and employment."

"Brittney has a passion for social justice, and combines a willingness to serve with a deep understanding of the academic context of social justice,” said Dr. Richard Waugh, professor of geography at UW-Platteville and supervisor of Hayes’ field work project. “This combination will result in her completion of the social and environmental justice minor at UW-Platteville and provides strong support for her degree in political science. Experiences of this type will be invaluable in helping Brittney to address issues of social justice in her life, both now and in the future.”

Hayes will graduate from UW-Platteville in December and hopes to work in the human/social services field. She is also considering joining AmeriCorps, a program that engages more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service at nonprofits, schools, public agencies and faith-based groups across the country.

Contact: Dr. Richard Waugh, department of geography, (608) 342-1386, Waugh@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu

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