For the second straight season, Providence University College, with its ‘Pilot Initiative’ program, has earned the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Community Service Award. Providence has now won the award for 2022-23 and previously in 2021-22.

The CCAA’s Community Service Award, presented annually since 2000, recognizes a member institution that has successfully developed and administered a community relations program.

The ‘Pilot Initiative’ targets student-athletes to empower them to serve local communities in need, teach the next generations of athletes and impact people around them.

Providence Athletics believes in building up the complete athlete and looks forward to continuing to expand this initiative in the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC).

“Early in our Athletic Orientation, we empower our student-athletes to be good ambassadors of Providence, internally and externally,” said Scott Masterson, Vice President Operations at Providence. “By giving each of them the responsibility to represent our school, we hope they will be intentional in every relationship they can create.”

Serving their communities has had quite the impact on all parties involved.

First, it impacts the targeted audience of the organizations Providence partners with. By providing for the needs of others (whether physical or emotional), the student-athletes directly impact them.

The organizations are also impacted – by providing support and service, the student-athletes answer a need for volunteers that they often struggle to fill.

Finally, the athletes themselves are impacted by the experience as they are given the chance to be difference-makers and leaders in the community.

This year, the ‘Pilot Initiative’ partnered with more than 15 organizations and provided more than 4,000 service hours in the community. Approximately 100 student-athletes were trained in the servant leadership program and had the opportunity to put their skills to work.

Some of the projects this past season included:

Sports Clinics for Children: Eight clinics were conducted across three sports (Basketball, Volleyball and Soccer) for girls and boys. Free for everyone to access, these clinics gave student-athletes at Providence the chance to teach fundamental skills to young athletes, giving them the opportunity to work with high-level athletes. Through the eight clinics, 136 children were impacted.

Basketball drop-in: Twice during the Winter semester, basketball players had the occasion to participate in a drop-in session to help a young local coach teach the game.

Bear Clan: Bear Clan is a non-profit organization that massively impacts the more at-risk districts of Winnipeg. By providing a positive and safe presence in the streets, clean-up and essential supplies, student-athletes at Providence had the chance to be real difference-makers.

Operation Christmas Child: Always a staple of the ‘Pilot Initiative’, Operation Christmas Child saw all six varsity teams come together with the rest of the student body to prepare hygiene kits, school gifts and other needed supplies for less fortunate children across the globe.

Bingo Night: Several student-athletes had the opportunity to serve elders by playing board games, having discussions, and topping it all with a Bingo session.

Competitive Food Drive: The Women’s Volleyball squad teamed up with a local company to organize a competitive food drive for Helping Hands. The student-athletes tackled one area in the community, while the company focused on another. Whoever took in more food items won the contest. Players campaigned two weeks before collection day, then went out and gathered food items. There were also giveaways for people who donated and fun banter on social media with the company ensued. All in all, a significant number of packages were put together for families in need in both communities.

Getting the street ready for Winter: Student-athletes volunteered for local township districts, where they helped with manual labour tasks such as raking leaves, removing flowerpots, etc.

Beyond these examples, Providence student-athletes were also individually involved in coaching youth, serving in local churches, and pursuing other opportunities to be servants in their communities.