Bright Spot: Serve901

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It's Spring Break across the country.

Instead of heading to the beach, many college students have chosen a working vacation and are spending time in Memphis volunteering with some of the city's non-profits.

There weren't any wild parties for these Boston University students.

They're in Memphis volunteering with Serve901.

"This is my third time participating," one student said.

901Serve is a non-profit that connects college students from all over the country to volunteer opportunities in Memphis.

"We see it as an awesome recruitment opportunity for the city," James Aycock, with Grizzlies Prep Academy, said.

Andy and Avila are preparing fifth and sixth graders at Grizzlies Prep Academy for their reading tests.

"It would take us a long time to get through all of the reading testing. It's individualized one on one testing," Aycock said.

The student volunteers are really having an impact.

The testing they will finish in two days would take the staff at Grizzlies Prep Academy two weeks to complete.

It's not all work, however.

The students also get to experience the culture of the city with visits to the Civil Rights Museum and several historic neighborhoods.

"They might be experiencing the south for the first time. They might hear y'all or drink sweet tea for the first time. They might not know about barbeque. We want to make sure their experience is authentic, and they work with organizations that can use help," Jeff Riddle, with City Leadership, said.

It's also a great opportunity for volunteers to connect with other students who have a passion  for giving back.

"The place where Serve901 has had us stay, we've had the opportunity to meet other groups from other schools. I think Penn State, Loyola, and it's been great meeting those other students as well," a volunteer said.

Serve901 says many of these students take ideas back to the better of their own communities, but the hope is the days spent in Memphis neighborhoods will make them want to come back to the bluff city.

"So hopefully, you're planting a seed for them to want to come and work in Memphis after they graduate," Aycock said. "I really think it'll make a lasting impact on all of the volunteers lives, and hopefully some of the lives of some of the community members as well."

Educated and willing to serve in the 901.

It's a winning combination that Memphis welcomes.