TUVAC volunteers work with the local juvenile detention center in 1977.
Trinity’s students have always preferred action to activism.
In response to the massive social and political upheavals of the 1960s, Tigers started their own Community Service Program in 1965. This program, known today as the Trinity University Volunteer Action Community (TUVAC), has promoted on-campus unity and connected Trinity students to the needs of the community for decades.
Financed in part by the Brackenridge and Hogg Foundations, TUVAC made an early impact through study programs at Victoria Courts, Alazan Apache Project, San Juan Homes, Kenwood Project, Cassiano Homes, Lincoln Heights, and the Sutton House.
Other volunteer efforts included recreational programs at the House of Neighborly Service and visits to the Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston to talk to wounded veterans, many of whom had served in Vietnam. In 1967 the student association reported that more than 200 Trinity students were working on ten different service projects.
Trinity volunteers would also work with child development and tutoring programs in conjunction with local public schools, the Juvenile Detention Center, and the San Antonio Literacy Council. They also served as volunteers in various hospitals and medical facilities and hosted physically challenged and financially deprived children by holding parties and taking them to special events such as circuses and theatrical performances.
Participation continued to rise. In 1976, for example, TUVAC leaders reported that more than 300 Trinity students had participated in one or more programs during the academic year.
The inauguration of Volunteer Awareness Week (VAW) in 1989 marked the beginning of concerted efforts by TUVAC and other service groups to rekindle the social responsibility that had declined during the 1980s. In 1992, 500 students volunteered more than 1,000 hours in a seven-day period, rebuilding homes and recycling products. Reporting that during the previous year Trinity students had donated nearly 17,000 hours to service projects, TUVAC Director Drew Scheberle concluded, "So don't let anyone tell you that Trinity students are apathetic."
In the present day, TUVAC also responds to unforeseen crises. In response to a string of disasters ranging from Hurricane Harvey to mass shootings in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas in 2017, TUVAC organized a successful blood drive in partnership with the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center (STBTC), sending much-needed blood to area hospitals and medical centers. In total, the group gathered enough donations to be able to save up to 153 lives, according to STBTC personnel.
Read more about Trinity’s history of service to its communities in the article, “The Spirit of Trinity,” from the Spring 2018 Trinity magazine.