Learn about "The 10,000 Hours Show" and other Tucson and campus organizations.
Some say the power to create change resides in every individual. Cecilia Romero is taking that philosophy to heart.
Romero has spent the last several months working to engage students in “The 10,000 Hours Show,” a nationwide initiative where students clock 10,000 volunteer hours in exchange for a free concert at the end of the academic year.
When the program launches Sept. 26, The University of Arizona will become the first in Arizona and the only Pac-10 conference institution to make that commitment.
The concept is that students who volunteer at least 10 hours to a local nonprofit organization during the academic year will get a free ticket to a concert in the spring.
Romero’s push for the program came after a chance meeting with Mike Brooks, one of two former University of Iowa students who helped create the program.
Romero, a junior at the UA, went on an alterative spring break program earlier this year to help in the continued reconstruction efforts after hurricane Rita hit Louisiana in 2005. While there, she was part of a team that rebuilt a home for a single mother of two.
It was during that trip that Romero met Brooks and learned about 10,000 Hours Show, which held its first concert in 2004. The project is now managed by United Way of America.
Speaking now about her experience, Romero said: “It was something about that program that triggered something – a little fire. There was something so powerful and I really wanted others to experience it. When I came back, I was highly motivated to get something done in Tucson.”
Romero and her group of 30 student volunteers are currently seeking grants, donations and corporate sponsors.
“I thought it would be a good program because it connects the idea of bridging the gap between the UA campus and the Tucson community,” says Romero, who is working with Associated Students of the University of Arizona and the United Way of Southern Arizona. "And the program addresses one of our mission statements, which is service to the community,” she added.
Brooks, now manager of campus engagement for United Way of America in Virginia, said the UA joins six other schools across the nation participating in the program. The UA is the furthest school west to ever participate, he said.
“It’s been really incredible seeing the program grow,” Brooks says. “It’s all about young people having an idea and running with it and being able to connect with community.”
To date, more than 105,000 hours have been performed, Brooks noted.
“It’s really the student excitement, passion and vision that makes this happen. I’m really excited that the University of Arizona is doing this and I’m really glad that the campus and United Way there are supporting them,” he added. “The most exciting thing is all the good work that is going to go on there.”
The UA’s concert will be held some time in the spring and bands will be decided at a later date, but those involved say the program is about more than the concert.
“We’re trying to push the aspect of the community service over the concert,” said Courtney McAbee, co-executive director and a junior in finance.
“We don’t want the concert to be the main focus for people volunteering," she added. "We want people to do it because they want to, and because they feel good doing it.”
Washington D.C.-based Independent Sector, a nonpartisan organization that represents fundraising and service-oriented groups, reports that the value of the volunteer hour was $18.77 last year, and that amount has increased steadily over the years. In 1980, the value was at $7.46.
“Money is important to the organizations, but the volunteer hours are worth so much,” Romero said. “It’s the volunteers that keep them going.”