MIAMI SHORES, Fla. -- Barry University women's tennis team volunteered through a number of different community service projects during the fall semester.
"Our program believes that in order to create good overall individuals, our student-athletes need to experience more than just academics and sports," Barry assistant coach Maria Lopez said. "It has been on top of the list for the women’s tennis team to be involved in different community service projects as a team and individually to serve in their growth as individuals during their time at Barry University."
Barry's women's tennis team volunteered in the Miami Shores Community Fest in late October, Gobble Wobble, Camillus House Tennis Charity Fundraiser, Founders Week and Walk for Leukemia, all in November, and their semester-long project Food for the Poor.
Additionally, senior Akemi Maehama has devoted some time individually to give back to the community by participating in projects such as Camillus House on four separate days, attending leadership forums on three days, serving as a Sport & Exercise Science 210 class guest speaker twice, and her latest project starting a student committee with, "Food for the Poor," with the help of her teammates and inviting other students at the university to join the group.
"We got to interact with people and mostly kids from the community that our university is located in," Maehama said of the Miami Shores Community Fest. "It was a good experience and a good way to give back to the community. As we get the support from them, we wanted to give thanks through our actions. We also helped put up the place in the beginning of the day and walk around and interact with other campaigns. I felt like I had the opportunity to reconnect with people that I don't get to have enough moments to give thanks. It was a lot of fun playing with the kids."
At the Camillus House, the women's tennis team revisited the school's mission.
"How amazing is it to be able to play the sport that we love and at the same time help out the homeless," Maehama said. "We could not have asked for a better way to give back and help the needy. In this event, we met the university's mission, 'Learn, Reflect and Serve,' just by playing the sport we love with the people that love the sport to serve the poor. Seeing people from different places coming together to help the poor was just a peaceful view."
The tennis team's experience at the leukemia walk was a challenge, but worthwhile.
"It was bright and early when we started our service hours at this event," Maehama said. "Despite the time and weather, we knew that if we do our best and help out in this event, our effort will be sent to those who are struggling with this devastating sickness called Leukemia. We are happy to be able to collaborate in a event for such a good cause."
Maehama's personal project has been a success.
"It is amazing to see that my teammates are very motivated to help out for a wonderful organization such as, 'Food for the Poor,'" she said. "We raise awareness and collect donations from Barry students, staff and faculty on campus to give out to the poor around the world. We are glad and excited that our actions and help does not only stay within our community, but it also goes as far as the world, We want to keep doing our job, and keep helping people that are in need."
Maehama received personal gratification from her volunteer efforts at Camillus House.
"I am happy that I have the opportunity to be able to be a part of a great organization such as Camillus House," she said. "Every time I go there and help out, I feel good about what I did with my time. There are so many people that are in need, and it is a great feeling when I know that I used my time wisely and efficiently to cooperate and comfort the homeless."