Bearcats accumulate over 2,000 hours of community service

March 2, 2012

By Theo Marshall

Since the start of the school year, UC's student-athletes have volunteered 2,358.75 hours of their time to serving the community. Life Skills Coordinator and Committee to Promote Athlete Welfare and Success (CPAWS) advisor, Cassaundra Thorpe, gives athletes a platform to help others.

"What I do encompasses many things," said Thorpe. "Mainly, it's working with the student-athletes and preparing them for life after graduation. I try to take the skills that they learn in sport and apply them to activities outside of sport. For example: teamwork. They know how to work inside of each other and to be able to problem solve very quickly in order to be successful.

"To take that skill and transfer it into a project like building blankets to be most produce this product," she said. "It's getting them to switch brains. They know that they can do more, but to really show them and apply that they can do more outside of sport."

Each month CPAWS commits to a different service project. The organization's president, women's golfer Alex Carl, brought back February's project from a NCAA Leadership Conference. The task was putting together no sew blanks for Linus Foundation. The blankets are given to children in the Greater Cincinnati area.

"[They're] for children that don't have consistent homes and are bouncing around foster homes," she said. "You take two pieces of fleece, tie them together, stretch it out and you have a blanket. It gives them a sense of stability."

This month, CPAWS will be making handwritten cards and homemade decorations to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. The goods will be mailed to persons in retirement homes that will not receive as much mail due to March's lack of national holidays.

Since joining the UC staff five months ago, Thorpe has already seen members of the Bearcats community performing service hour away from CPAWS and even Cincinnati. In October, Cincinnati's Lacrosse team used a trip to Baltimore for more than a scrimmage.

 "When they played in Maryland, they raised money and participated in a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure," said Thorpe. "That just speaks volumes. They're not just focused on the Cincinnati community. For them to bring Cincinnati down to Maryland and showcase it to the community is just fantastic."

The same could be said within CPAWS. Students and coaches alike are more willing to volunteer in different areas. Something Thorpe says helps to build relationships within Cincinnati's athletic department that can serve students after their athletic careers.

"[Volunteering] is just widening their network and their pool," she said. "So when it comes to graduation and they're like `I need a job and want to be in marketing'. Well, I know Leslie Wenert, the Marketing Director, maybe she knows someone in your hometown and I connect with them. It just snowballs from there."

For Thorpe seeing student-athletes excel on and off the field brings her joy, especially when they're forced to do something out of their element.  

"When we did Adopt-A-Family in December, I had men from the track team in here on the floor wrapping Barbie dolls and socks," she said. "Last week, I had football players who were making blankets and stretching them out. It's just growing and really building their character.

"Seeing all of the happen by a project where no one is an expert and no one is critiquing what they're doing," Thorpe said. "It's just them doing it, their own method. To see them excel in that is great."

CPAWS meets every first Sunday at UCATS in Fifth Third Arena at 5 p.m.