July 30, 2013
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. – For sophomore Auburn pole vaulter Jessie Johnson, a weekend of reaching out prompted some introspection.
“It’s definitely kind of a reality check to realize you are so fortunate to have what you have,” Johnson said. “It’s good to have that reality check and say ‘I am blessed. I am very blessed.’”
Johnson joined eight Auburn soccer players and academic counselors Jenna Sample and Mary Ann Taylor-Sims on a weekend trip to Greensboro, Ala., in Hale County. They went to offer a helping hand in one of the state’s poorer areas.
For soccer freshman Kiana Clarke, it was a unique experience.
“It was fun trying to help out,” Clarke said. “It was kind of new stuff for me, not stuff I’ve ever done before. That was fun. It was just nice to help out and see that the people there appreciated it.”
The group arrived Friday and spent the weekend helping with the renovation of what will be a Habitat project in downtown Greensboro. They went at the invitation of the Hale County Empowerment and Revitalization Organization, known as HERO.
“It was awesome,” Sample said. “It was a lot of fun. We met some interesting folks. It was good to give back and help that little community.”
The idea for the trip came when Sample and Taylor-Simms attended a conference at which Pam Dorr, an Auburn graduate who runs HERO, spoke.
“It was awesome,” Johnson said. “Basically, we got to help out. You can’t really beat being able to help people. I’d love to do it again.”
Taylor-Simms said the athletes who made the trip deserved a salute.
“It was a great experience,” she said. “We got to meet a lot of neat people and see some great work being done over there. They are really making an impact in Hale County.
“It was great having them volunteer and participate in this. I think it’s real important for them to step outside of athletics and Auburn University. You go over there, and there is so much need and so much going on with helping people.”
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: