VIDEO: Jackets Without Borders - Puerto Rico 2018
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – Georgia Tech Athletics’ “Jackets Without Borders” program is the recipient of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Game Changers Award for the 2018-19 academic year.
The ACC’s Game Changers initiative was introduced in 2015 to recognize and highlight specific ACC teams’ involvement within the community. The Jackets Without Borders (JWOB) program was initiated in the spring of 2017 by Director of Athletics Todd Stansbury. With this initiative, he envisioned an opportunity to build a partnership with communities outside of local Atlanta to extend the reach of Georgia Tech athletics.
“Georgia Tech is creating meaningful change through its Jackets Without Borders program and the work being done is remarkable,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “The dedication and commitment by the student-athletes, coaches and administrators is inspiring.”
In its inaugural trip, the JWOB program traveled to Cartago, Costa Rica, to assist a community in building a multi-use sports court for a K-12 school. This institution had been lobbying for a recreation space for almost 30 years and with the help of the Courts for Kids organization, fundraising from student-athletes and a willing team, Jackets Without Borders was able to assist in building a space where students could play sports and be active during physical education class.
Last May, the second annual JWOB trip traveled to Puerto Rico to help with hurricane rehabilitation work. This trip was especially significant because student-athletes elected to use this trip as a continuation of the efforts being done by the Georgia Tech Athletic Association around Hurricane Maria.
In the winter of 2018, Georgia Tech had raised donations and goods to send to Puerto Rico, in an effort spearheaded by head softball coach, Aileen Morales, who is Puerto Rican. In response to this, the Student-Athlete Advisory Board selected Puerto Rico as the destination of the next service trip, to offer more aid to the rebuilding efforts. That trip sent 18 student-athletes and three staff members to Villa del Rio, a rural mountain town on the outskirts of San Juan. The group assisted in housing and foundation rebuilds to repair some of the homes that had been destroyed by the hurricane.
The student-athletes worked side by side with the local community and home owners to mix concrete, lay new foundations and repair siding on houses that were unlivable.
“I’ve never had an opportunity like this to come out and help a community like this that really needs help after the Hurricane,” Georgia Tech swimmer Cat MacGregor said. “I just wanted to get out there and get my hands dirty.”
All of the supplies used were from funds raised by the student-athletes. Through their efforts, foundations on five different homes were built so that the homeowners could receive FEMA funds to rebuild their houses. Each student-athlete was responsible for raising $2,000 to fund their trip, and a total of $43,000 was raised to support this program and the supplies needed for the projects.
Ten Yellow Jacket sports teams have been represented on the JWOB trips. Staff members from student-athlete development, compliance, academics, sports medicine and coaches have served as staff chaperones.
According to Maureen Tremblay, Georgia Tech’s Total Person Program Coordinator, JWOB’s involvement is only beginning.
“Jackets Without Borders is a reoccurring project that will only continue to grow each year,” Tremblay said. “Due to the high engagement from student-athletes and request for more opportunities, the Jackets Without Borders trip is set to become a bi-yearly project with trips in December and May. JWOB plans to return to Villa del Rio to continuously build on the relationships that have been created with the local community and to carry on the rehabilitation work that we started.
“Our hope is that JWOB can assist the home owners in finishing the rebuilding of their houses each year and return their homes to a livable state.”
Recognition for the Georgia Tech Game Changers will include a video and award presentation during the 2019 ACC Postgraduate Luncheon on Wednesday, April 10, at the Sheraton Four Seasons Hotel in Greensboro.
If you would like to make a gift towards the Jackets Without Borders program, please click here.
If you would like to track the progress or donate to an individual student-athlete, please click here.
If you would like to learn more about the success of this program, please check out the highlight reel from last year’s trip to Puerto Rico.
Jackets Without Borders is a program that focuses on global service-learning opportunities for Georgia Tech student-athletes. The upcoming trip’s mission is to provide student-athletes with an immersive cultural experience and the opportunity to perform impactful and meaningful work. Jackets Without Borders has been a transformational learning experience for our participants, as all have emerged with a greater sense of personal responsibility, cultural appreciation, and increased self-awareness.