University Honors Program

Civic Engagement Requirement

Students must submit a Statement of Purpose no later than the first week of classes in the spring of their second year in the Program. The Statement should discuss in some depth the area of service (e.g. poverty, housing, children's issues, the environment, etc.) the student will pursue and the reasoning behind the choice. The Statement should also include a plan with specifics as to how the service goal will be reached.

Each semester thereafter until graduation from the Program the student must complete no fewer than 10-15 hours of approved community service.


Civic engagement expresses a core value of the Honors Program. Examples of civic engagement include volunteering with a community service organization, registering to vote, donating blood, tutoring in an after school program, and many other things as well.

Students in the Honors Program are strongly encouraged to participate in public service in the Shoals area as well as in their home towns during the first year.

The Civic Engagement Requirement begins with successful completion of the Honors 201 Forum. Students then must submit a Statement of Purpose no later than the first week of classes in the spring of their second year in the Program. The Statement should discuss in some depth the area of service (e.g. poverty, housing, children's issues, the environment, etc.) the student will pursue and the reasoning behind the choice. The Statement should also include a plan with specifics as to how the service goal will be reached.

Each semester thereafter until graduation from the Program the student must complete no fewer than 10-15 hours of approved community service.

While the desire to serve must come from within, we believe service is an essential part of the college experience.  Below you will find contact information concerning a number of service organizations and opportunities in the Shoals.  Please consider what kind of difference you can make.



Shoals Area Volunteer Organizations

Alabama Kidney Foundation

The Shoals Chapter, Alabama Kidney Foundation is a nonprofit organization that serves the Shoals in providing financial and emotional support and assistance to dialysis patients and transplant recipients and their families. Marty Rich (256) 766-7577 or Linda Newkirk (256) 767-1391 

American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is seeking cosmetologists, skin-care and make-up specialists to volunteer their services in helping women undergoing cancer treatments through a program called "Look Good … Feel Better." The program is offered as a partnership of the American Cancer Society, The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association Foundation and the National Cosmetology Association. The program teaches women hands-on techniques to help restore their appearance and self-image during treatment.  

The American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery program needs volunteer drivers who can provide essential service to their neighbors in Shoals communities. Volunteers must own a car and possess safe driving (256) 767-0825

The American Red Cross of Northwest Alabama

The American Red Cross of Northwest Alabama has volunteer opportunities available at the Florence office at 318 S. Court St. Volunteers are needed to help with answering the phone, filing and data entry. There is a need for volunteers to do disaster services and community education. Contact Tammy Burks at (256) 763-1237 or

Arc of the Shoals

Arc of the Shoals, which provides services for adults age 21 and older with mental retardation, needs volunteers to visit with residents, take them shopping and to community events. Donna Akins,, (256) 383-1472 ext. 16

Big Brothers/Big Sisters

Big Brothers/Big Sisters provides an adult role model for children, ages 6-13. A professional case manager interviews each child and parent. The parent shares information about the child's personality, needs and interests and a suitable child is paired with a volunteer. The volunteer and the child decide the activities. Gina Mashburn (256) 248-1931


CASA volunteers are Court-Appointed Special Advocates. They investigate cases involving abused and neglected children in court. CASA volunteers require no special background; interested individuals attend 30 hours of training and spend an average of 5-10 hours per month working on the child's behalf. After talking with everyone who touches the life of the child, the volunteer reports to the judge the acquired information and makes recommendations.  CASA, P.O. Box 1313, Florence, AL 35631, or call (256) 765-0041     

Cherokee Rescue Squad

Cherokee Rescue Squad needs volunteers to assist in the community by providing ambulance transportation and search/rescue services. Training provided. Volunteers needed as first-responders, emergency medical technicians, search personnel, drivers and boat operators. Meetings are at 7 p.m. first Monday of each month at the rescue squad building, Daniel Street, Cherokee. or Matt Moore (256) 702-6221.

Children's Museum of the Shoals

The Children's Museum of the Shoals in Florence is seeking volunteers to help as birthday party room volunteers, field trips volunteers and with book fairs.  Open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 10:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., (256) 765-0500.

Colbert Caring Center

Colbert Caring Center in Tuscumbia provides partial payment of utilities, as well as vouchers for emergency food and prescriptions. The Caring Center is supported by churches, individuals and organizations.  Office hours are 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (256) 381-8464

Colbert County Homeland Security

The Colbert County Homeland Security RSVP needs volunteers, age 55 and older, who reside in Colbert Country. Volunteers help distribute emergency literature on disaster preparedness and provide park patrol at Spring Park. Accident, accidental death, excess auto liability and personal liability insurance provided.  (256) 386-8578, fax (256) 386-8548; or e-mail

The Community Action Agency of Northwest Alabama

The Community Action Agency of Northwest Alabama needs individuals or groups to deliver meals to homebound individuals in the Shoals area. (256) 766-4330

Cramer Children's Center

The Cramer Children's Center is a nonprofit organization that needs volunteers who could help by monitoring court-ordered visitations and/or answering phones, light filing, greeting clients when they have appointments and playing with children while their parents speak to a therapist. The center is a nonprofit 5013c agency. Ashley Whitehead, (256) 760-1140

ECM Hospital

Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital (256) 768-8491 is seeking volunteers for the following:  Transporter - This person will help transport patients to their vehicle after their stay in the hospital. It requires a lot of walking and some interaction with patients; Cath lab, ICU and CCU waiting areas - This person greets families to the waiting area and is available for questions from family members; Patient information - This person serves as a greeter to those who enter the hospital, searches for patient information on the computer and relays it to the visitor on the telephone or in the hospital.

Florence-Lauderdale County Emergency Management Agency's Search and Rescue Team

Florence-Lauderdale County Emergency Management Agency's Search and Rescue Team is looking for volunteers to assist with water safety, storm spotting, community activities, searching for missing people and response and recovery during times of disaster. Applications are available 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, EMA office, basement of Florence City Hall. (256) 760-6363

Florence Main Street

A non-profit organization dedicated to the economic and cultural revitalization of downtown Florence. Contact Executive Director Teryl Shields at (256) 760-9648,

Florence Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Contact:  Shelaine, Activity Director, at (256) 766-5771.  They are currently looking for individual and group volunteers to sing, play instruments, dance, craft, act, or just visit.  Located on Coyd Boulevard near Regency Square Mall.

Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama

Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama is a nonprofit organization dedicated solely to girls. It helps cultivate values, social conscience and self-esteem in young girls, while teaching critical life skills that will enable them to succeed as adults. Girl Scouts of North Alabama is looking for adult volunteers. Nicole Fults, Kim Knight or Jeanene Welch, (256) 764-0331 or (800) 410-8338.

Habitat for Humanity

Office (256) 760-9515 or Cynthia Burkhead (256) 765-4790, The local Habitat for Humanity affiliate will begin construction on a new house this fall.  The students need nothing more than their bodies and willingness to learn various skills.  People with no experience are usually paired with experienced volunteers on Habitat builds.   

The Healing Place

The Healing Place provides ongoing grief support for children (ages 3-19) and adults who have suffered the loss of a loved one by death because of an accident, illness, suicide or homicide. Support also is available for children whose loved one is seriously ill. There is no charge for the service. Volunteers are needed to assist with the children's groups. The minimum commitment is two hours quarterly and training is available. (256) 383-7133 or

Helen Keller Hospital’s Department of Volunteer Service

Helen Keller Hospital's Department of Volunteer Services in Sheffield is seeking volunteers in several areas including:  Outpatient Desk - answer and direct phone calls, assist with admitting personnel, direct visitors and patients, etc. Computers and phones are used and training available;Dial-A-Volunteer - run errands, transport patients, etc. Must be able to push wheelchairs and carts; Greeters - greet visitors at the main entrance; ER waiting area - greet and assist patients in the emergency room waiting area, help admitting, run  errands, etc.; Day-patient waiting area - liaison between the families and staff of the Day Patient Center.  Call Christa Martin, volunteer coordinator at Helen Keller Hospital, at (256) 386-4107.

The Help Center

Contact:  George Megar (Mon), Kay Elder (Wed), or Ray Curry (Fri) at (256)766-7663.  The Help Center needs volunteers to organize donated materials in receiving, work in the food area, sort clothes, assist clients, and staff the office.  They are open on MWF from 8:30 a.m. - noon. 

Helping Hands Animal Rescue

Volunteers needed. The Shoals first no-kill shelter.  (256) 360-2953,

Heritage Preservation Inc.

A non-profit organization devoted to historical preservation in the Florence and Lauderdale County Alabama area. Contact Board President Billy Warren at

Hospice of the Shoals

Hospice of the Shoals is a nonprofit organization caring for terminally ill patients in their homes in Colbert, Franklin and Lauderdale counties. Volunteers are needed to do errands, light housework and provide companionship to patients and their families.,(256) 767-6699

Mama’s Educational Turtle Haven and Rescue

Mama's Educational Turtle Haven and Rescue, a chartered and not-for-profit program, needs volunteers to bathe and oil large 200-pound tortoises, clean stalls in tortoise house, put down new bedding, weedeat and clean water and food dishes. The haven accepts all turtles, well or sick. There is a drop bucket at the haven at 157 E. Lee Ave., Florence. Debbie Marsh, (256) 764-5369, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Montreat Apartments

Montreat, a nonprofit organization and affordable housing community for people ages 62 or older who need an handicapped-accessible unit, needs volunteers to drive their handicapped-accessible van to recreational outings with the residents. Will work around volunteers schedule.  Mary Alice Brackin, (256) 767-2211, 8 a.m. -4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments (NACOLG)

The Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments offices located in Muscle Shoals seeks volunteers for the State Health Insurance Program. The SHIP program utilizes volunteer counselors to provide senior citizens with information regarding health-insurance options. Volunteers are trained to provide materials and policy comparisons for individuals needing supplemental insurance, provide one-on-one counseling with individuals via phone or site visits and help promote this free service. (256) 389-0530.

The NACOLG SeniorRx Prescription Program assists low-income elderly complete necessary paperwork to qualify for free or low-cost life-sustaining medication. Volunteers needed to copy, file, do data entry and answer phones in the Florence, Phil-Campbell and Haleyville offices. (800) 243-5463 or (256) 389-0532.

Neighborhood Christian Center (Decatur)

Similar to the Help Center in Florence - food and other forms of assistance along with classes and training for clients. Tim & Pamela (256) 351-7633

Northwest Alabama Reading Aides

Northwest Alabama Reading Aides is a nonprofit United Way agency in need of volunteers to teach adults how to read. After completing a three-day training workshop to become familiar with the teaching material, volunteers are matched with an individual student at a convenient time to them both. They will meet twice a week for about 1.5 hours each session. Jim Green (256) 766-5709

Pets Are Worth Saving (PAWS)

PAWS (Pets are Worth Saving) is dedicated to providing assistance to abandoned and abused pets in northwest Alabama. Through collaboration with other animal welfare organizations and shelters, PAWS seeks to implement innovative programs that will provide foster homes and promote adoptions. The organization also supports spay/neuter and other educational programs designed to teach citizens how to humanely care for their pets. PAWS' foster-care network needs volunteers to provide short-term, in-home care for friendly dogs and cats until they are adopted. All veterinary care is paid.  or (256) 383-0690

Rape Response

Rape Response is a nonprofit agency dedicated to helping victims of sexual assault in Colbert, Lauderdale, Franklin, Marion and Lawrence counties. Volunteers 19 years and older are needed to answer 24 hour crisis line, assist with prevention programs and general office duties. Volunteer nurses are needed for examinations. Volunteers receive extensive training. (256) 765-0025

Rolling Riders

Rolling Riders is a therapeutic horseback-riding program for children and young adults with disabilities. Each rider needs three volunteers to assist during the weekly session. Volunteers require only a sense of safety and desire to work with children with special needs. Nancy Squires or Dee Musselman (256) 740-8296 

Safeplace Inc.

Safeplace Inc. provides services for victims of domestic violence in Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Marion and Winston counties. Volunteers are needed in various capacities, including: answering the crisis line; child care and activities with children; tutoring; yard work and maintenance; secretarial, office work and bulk mailing; language interpretation; prevention programs; pick up and delivery of donations; court advocacy; speaking engagements; special event coordination; and other activities.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army needs volunteers to sort and size clothing, refinish and refurbish furniture and appliances, stock items and collect donations. Also needed: office receptionists, people to prepare food and grocery baskets and do maintenance work. (256) 764-4432


Sheffield's improvement group, SHINE, promotes family-friendly events in Sheffield. SHINE has its monthly meetings at Sheffield City Hall and needs volunteers to help with events. Amy Holcomb (256) 314-1911

Shoals Area Tri-County Adult Program

Shoals Area Tri-County Adult Program trains volunteers to teach adults to read and assist with other skills, including letter-writing, job application, resume-writing and parenting skills. Donnie Sweeney or Sandy Mitchell, (256) 331-5438 or (256) 331-5440

Shoals Sav-A-Life

Shoals Sav-A-Life provides services for pregnancy testing, parenting classes, abstinence education, and abortion recovery/counseling.  Please contact Ruth Wallace at (256) 740-0640 or

St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store

St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store is a non-profit organization that sells donated items at a reasonable price. Surplus funds from the store are used to subsidize the utility and rent program administered by the St. Vincent DePaul Society. The society helps anyone in need regardless of race or religion. The store is at 659 S. Poplar St., Florence (off Veterans Drive behind Jenkins Brick). Volunteers needed for pick up and deliveries. (256) 718-0901. For assistance with rent, utility bills and/or food, call (256) 718-0921.

United Way Success by 6 of Northwest Alabama

Success by 6 is an early childhood development initiative whose goal is make sure every child in the community is prepared for first grade. Success by 6 hosts fundraisers to fund book giveaways, readiness screenings, and other early childhood interventions. Volunteers are needed to read to children in day cares, participate in fundraising, help with web and social media, and other projects. Contact Crystal MacGruder

Therapy Dog Inc.

Therapy Dog Inc. needs volunteer dog owners to visit area nursing homes and assisted-living facilities each first and second Tuesday. Dogs must pass temperament test and be at least one year old. (256) 760-1777

The Underwood Petersville Community Center

The Underwood Petersville Community Center needs volunteers to help with maintenance and upkeep of the building; help organize and serve at banquets catered at the center; assist with the center's monthly fundraising project, an all-you-can-eat breakfast the first Saturday of each month; and serve on the board of directors. (256) 764-1388

United Way

The United Way needs volunteers for activities throughout the year for agency community partners. (256) 764-5892

Victims of Crime and Leniency (VOCAL)

VOCAL (Victims of Crime and Leniency) is a non-profit organization established for the purpose of improving the quality of justice for victims of crime. Volunteers are needed for victims' assistance, victims' advocacy and education and public awareness programs. Anyone who is a victim, a family member of a victim or an interested party of a victim is invited to attend VOCAL meetings. (256) 757-6149, evenings.

Wayne County 4-H

The Wayne County, Tenn., 4-H program is seeking volunteers who want to make a difference in the lives of children. Volunteers are needed to meet with fourth- and fifth-grade 4-H clubs in Collinwood, Clifton, andWaynesboro. Applicants will be screened and training is provided. Shaun Jackson (931) 722-3229


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