Semester marks decade of service for LEAPS

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    Brian Banks’s dad demanded his son sign up for two things at the activities fair during his freshman year.

    Banks, now a senior and a co-director for the LEAPS program, said he signed up for the campus-wide day of community service because it was just that, one day.

    “I thought, “LEAPS, this is a one day event, I’ll just do this,'” Banks said.

    Now the one-day program he signed up for as a freshman takes up much more of his time because he has to account for nearly seven months over the course of two semesters in planning and preparation.

    Mary Kathleen Baldwin, assistant director for the office that advises LEAPS, said this semester marked the program’s 10th anniversary.

    The goal for the program is that participants will “find a commitment to go back and continue serving,” said Baldwin, the assistant director at the Center for Community Involvement and Service-Learning.

    Banks said becoming more involved with LEAPS was a natural progression.

    “It doesn’t seem like work,” he said.

    Baldwin said more than 900 volunteers went to 28 service sites around Fort Worth and Tarrant County this year.

    “I think it’s really energizing to see that much of the TCU community come together for community building,” she said.

    Mirza Begovic, a LEAPS co-director and website designer, said one benefit students receive from LEAPS is the chance to meet new people. Begovic, a senior biology major, said this was especially useful for new students.

    Transfer student Megan Leite, a sophomore music pre-major, said she participated in LEAPS to meet more people. The program was “a great way to get involved and get to know people.”

    Banks, a secondary school education major, said the program puts participants in groups with people with whom they normally would not spend time. But they shared the common element of being part of the university community.

    Students travel to various service sites together and spend a period of time working at the site. They are then encouraged to continue serving at volunteer locations available in the area.

    Similarly, the community has been encouraged to expand its involvement with the university.

    The city of Fort Worth honored TCU’s involvement in the community when city officials issued a proclamation that declared Saturday LEAPS Day in recognition of the 10-year anniversary of the event, Baldwin said.

    Banks said the proclamation tied in with TCU celebrating its 100-year anniversary in Fort Worth and the theme of TCU in the Fort Worth community.

    For more information on community involvement:

    * Visit the TCU Center for Community Involvement and Service-Learning on the second floor of Jarvis Hall

    * E-mail cisl@tcu.edu

    * Call 817-257-5557