“Exposure, travel and volunteering, I believe, are keys to success for any person.” -Mike F. Weaver, Founder of See and Serve America, Inc.
“These days I travel a lot, and whenever I can, I bring our three kids, now 21, 18 and 15, along. I want them to experience my favorite part of travel: the way that being far from home can pull you closer to other things — like the people you love and the version of yourself you hope to become.” -Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Having started in 2011, See and Serve America (SSA) has evolved from a small volunteer effort, Weaver and Concerned Citizens of Aiken/Atlanta Now or WeCCAAN, founded by Dr. Mike F. Weaver. Originally organized as an Alternative Spring Break to New Orleans for Dr. Weaver’s students at University of South Florida, WeCCAAN has since traveled from Aiken, SC and Atlanta, GA to other American cities including Washington DC, Baltimore, New York City, Boston, Miami and Chicago on twelve previous service learning experiences. Throughout the years 455 participants have provided over 2,600 volunteer hours toward community efforts. Average attendance is approximately 54 people, comprised mostly of teens, and the minimum age for participation is 14. See and Serve America is 100% volunteer-operated. Every dollar raised goes toward programs/activities, as there is hardly any administrative overhead.
SSA is an equal access opportunity for high school teens, their parents, college students and adult chaperones to experience service-learning. The overarching goal of See and Serve America is to significantly increase the number of volunteer hours Americans spend together engaged in positive community outcomes, both locally and away from home.
See and Serve America’s aim is for American citizens to travel from their own local community to serve a different community at least 250 miles away (at least 500 miles roundtrip). While visiting a different community, participants assist with volunteer efforts of a group of individuals, a community organization or an established nonprofit. In addition to civic engagement while visiting a particular city, participants examine various facets of the community via neighborhood, culture, public health, history and higher education.
See and Serve America has the following Community Outcomes:
Participants return from the service learning experiences with an increased knowledge base pertaining to community and intergenerational dialogue, a heightened cultural awareness, a greater understanding of leadership and camaraderie, and an uplifted spirit.
Outcome # 2
Participants return with a clear understanding of experiential learning to better and further prepare leadership abilities, particularly with planning and implementing activities geared toward community.
Participants receive invaluable hands-on experiences, which complements the very concept of Leadership. Most leadership is “grown” and nurtured; very few individuals are “born leaders.” Participants continue to volunteer locally at a nonprofit or community of their choosing.
Participants are provided with a forum to learn communication skills to share feelings and emotions in a safe space without judgement.
Participants are provided with a setting to work shoulder-to-shoulder and side-by-side with those whom there is little familiarity.