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Athens community projects receive UGA Sahm Award funding

A Sahm Award supported the Jr. Summer Academy at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel. The program was created in partnership with the Clarke County School District for Alps Road Elementary students. (Photo: Shannah Montgomery)

By Roy Parry/UGA Today

The University of Georgia continues to strengthen its commitment to Athens-Clarke County through an endowment established by Athens native and UGA alumna Bobbi Meeler Sahm and her family.

Four collaborative local projects between UGA and Athens-Clarke County organizations have been selected to receive a total of $39,000 as part of the Bobbi Meeler Sahm Service and Outreach Awards for 2024.

A Sahm Award supported the Farm to Neighborhood healthy eating camp, which included curriculum and support for UGA’s School of Social Work. (Photo: Shannah Montgomery)

The endowment, established in 2021 by Sahm and her family, helps UGA make an impact in Athens-Clarke County by partnering with local organizations to support the community. The fund, held by the UGA Foundation, is distributed yearly to selected projects. Inspired by the initial gift and the local impact it will have, UGA President Jere W. Morehead directed a $100,000 contribution to this fund using discretionary funds provided to him by the UGA Athletic Association.

Including the 2024 awards, the fund will have directed nearly $111,000 into UGA and Athens-Clarke County partnerships that benefit the local community.

The 2024 Bobbi Meeler Sahm Service and Outreach Award recipients include:

  • Clarke County School District / College of Education Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development: Community scholarships for the 2024 Creative Explorers Camp to provide needs-based scholarships to young children to attend creativity-enhancing summer day camps.

  • Clarke County School District / Office of Service-Learning: LevelUP, an after-school sports, academic support and literacy program for fourth and fifth graders who participate in team sports.

  • Athens YMCA / College of Family and Consumer Sciences: To help the YMCA complete its current garden design and establish a year-round system to grow and incorporate produce in programs throughout all seasons.

  • Athens Area Habitat for Humanity / Habitat for Humanity at UGA: To provide funding to build handicap ramps for two homeowners that will allow them to remain in their homes.

Award winners were selected by a committee of representatives from UGA and the Athens-Clarke community. Applications for the next round of funding will be accepted in fall 2024.

“The core mission of the University of Georgia is public service. The generosity of Bobbi Sahm and support of President Morehead allow us to utilize more of UGA’s resources in Athens-Clarke County and broaden the impactful community partnership work we’re doing,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for public service and outreach.

A Sahm Award supported a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to build ramps for seniors so they can remain in their own home.

Some previous community partners include Athens Community Council of Aging, Sandy Creek Nature Center, Clarke County School District Career Academy, Athens FARM RX, Parkinson’s Support Group and Farm to Neighborhood.

The Farm to Neighborhood partnership is an example of the type of work supported by the Sahm Award. Farm to Neighborhood was founded by Rashe Malcolm, owner of Rashe’s Cuisine, to help Athens-Clarke County residents with limited incomes overcome food insecurity. She started the HEALTHYouth program to help elementary and middle school youth develop healthy eating habits and learn about the food industry. The eight-week sessions teach participants about nutrition, healthy meal planning and budgeting tips.

Malcolm and Philip Hong, dean of the School of Social Work, developed a class curriculum for HEALTHYouth by adding healthy food and snack awareness, access, growing, and preparation contents to a workforce development and social-emotional learning guide written by Hong called the “Transforming Impossible into Possible (TIP).”

Two cohorts of elementary and middle school-aged students have gone through program. UGA School of Social Work interns were recruited and trained to be facilitators.

Another project to receive Sahm funding last year involves the UGA Speech and Hearing Clinic, housed in the Mary Frances Early College of Education, and the Athens Parkinson’s Support Group. The funding has helped the team raise local awareness about Parkinson’s disease through marketing efforts, seminars and community screenings, and has provided valuable support and resources to those affected by the disease.

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