Clarksville, TN – An Austin Peay State University (APSU) social work student is one of five students in the state to win the Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Award.
Mallory Fundora – who just finished her second year at Austin Peay State University – won the award for her work with Project Yesu, a charity she founded when she was 11 to feed and educate children in Uganda.
“It means so much to me to even be compared to Harold Love,” Fundora said. “(Clarksville Mayor) Joe Pitts is a close friend of mine and he told me how incredible a person Representative Love was and the impact he made on his community.
“He had such a compassionate and servant heart, and it’s such an honor to receive an award in his name,” Fundora added.
The award is named or the late state Representative Harold Love, who was instrumental in creating the original community service recognition program that spawned the honors. Love also was known for his compassion, good humor and service.
The award recognizes dedicated public service by those in higher education. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission gives the honor to five college students and five higher education faculty or staff members.
Project Yesu: ‘We have big plans for when this is over’
Project Yesu has grown in the years since Fundora founded it, adding child sponsorship and feeding programs with plans to build a school. But the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on Fundora and her cause.
She couldn’t make her regular spring trip to Uganda because of travel restrictions, for example, and the team couldn’t distribute food, Fundora said in an early April interview.
“The people in our programs are struggling, just like everyone is right now, but vastly different struggles than ours,” Fundora said in April. “They are already struggling with the funds for food and other basic needs on a daily basis.”
But Project Yesu was able to set up handwashing stations throughout Musima, Uganda, in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus.
“Project Yesu is hanging on fairly well,” Fundora said in a June 2nd email update. “We lost a couple of sponsors due to COVID financial situations, but we were able to find new sponsors for those children.
“We are just coasting while everything is so up in the air, but we have big plans for when this is over.”
Project Yesu sponsors about 250 children and feeds more than 450 every weekday.
“Being the change right now may seem difficult,” Fundora said. “It’s easier to focus on your current problems rather than what is happening to the people around us.
“I’m always fighting to be the change in Uganda, but it can be in your own community as well,” Fundora said. “It may take some creativity but changing the world can happen from your own home.”
Harold Love Award Winners
In addition to Fundora, four students from across the state won the Harold Love award.
- Briana Brady, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.
- Danielle Contreras, Belmont University.
- Gabriella Morin, Middle Tennessee State University.
- Miracle Walls, Maryville College.
Five college faculty and staff members also won.
- Daniel Carter, Sewanee University.
- Andrea Clements, East Tennessee State University.
- Nan Gaylord, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
- Amy Gilliland, Maryville College.
- Priscilla Simms-Roberson, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.
To win the award, nominees must make a lasting and meaningful impact on community, must show a length and degree of service, must serve above and beyond the call of duty and must be valued by peers and community members, according to the award’s criteria. Each winner receives a $1,000 cash prize.
To learn more
- For more about Project Yesu, go to https://www.projectyesu.org/.
- To learn more about Fundora, visit APSU’s GovLife profile of her at https://apsu.edu/govlife/students/mallory-fundora.php.
- For more about APSU’s Department of Social Work, go to https://www.apsu.edu/socialwork/.
- To learn more about the Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Award, go to https://www.tn.gov/thec/for-institutions/more/the-harold-love-outstanding-community-service-award.html.