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E&Y Your Master Plan Students Volunteer at Innisfree, Habitat for Humanity
Participants in the Ernst & Young Your Master Plan program know all about hard work. Not only are they all full-time employees of Ernst & Young, which sponsors the two-year program at the McIntire School of Commerce, they’re also students earning an M.S. in Accounting from the School.
So when these participants have some spare time, you might expect them to sit back and put their feet up. But you’d be wrong: Many participants in the E&Y YMP Program are happy to put down their laptops, roll up their sleeves, and get to work helping those in need.
On June 21, 2008, for example, 55 students from the YMP Class of 2008 volunteered 220 hours at the Innisfree Village (http://www.innisfreevillage.org/index.html). Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Innisfree is a residential community for some 40 adults with intellectual disabilities—known within the community as “coworkers”—and 25 full-time volunteers. Together, members of the community operate a range of vegetable and flower gardens, as well as a weavery, woodshop, kitchen, and bakery.
Not surprisingly, running these operations keeps community members very busy—which is why they were delighted by the YMP participants’ help cleaning windows, spreading mulch, harvesting garlic, and cleaning chicken houses.
“My team washed windows,” says YMP participant Carol Ku. “It was great because we got a chance to meet the coworkers we were serving. We also met volunteers who, incredibly, make a commitment of one year or more to live and work at Innisfree. It was a cool experience, and it fits with the culture of both U.Va. and Ernst & Young, both of which support giving back to the community. I’m so glad I did it.”
Adds Thomas Ball, vice president of the 2008 YMP class, “One of the volunteers was amazed at how much we were able to get done in such a short period of time. Working alongside my classmates for a cause greater than ourselves was deeply satisfying. Innisfree is a beautiful place with an inspiring setting and inspiring volunteers.”
Although 100 percent of the Class of 2008 who were in Charlottesville participated in the Innisfree project, a smaller number of students have been volunteering on a regular basis helping to build houses for a Charlottesville-based Habitat for Humanity project.
“I was impressed right from the start,” says Habitat Volunteer Coordinator Robin Francis. “There is no mandatory service component to the E&Y curriculum—the students just want to make a difference,” she says. “They’ll do everything from pounding nails, to framing houses, to hanging drywall. Without participants like those from the E&Y program, many houses simply wouldn’t get built.”
Ball finds the balance between working in the YMP program and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity “a great match.”
“It’s great to spend time outdoors,” he says. “It’s great to work with fellow students in a setting different from the office or classroom. And, perhaps best of all, you really get to see the fruits of your labor.”
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