Project Uplift is a volunteer-based program where Auburn students and youth can establish strong, one-on-one relationships. The main goal of the program is to help children develop constructive, happy lives so that the delinquency rate in Lee County will decrease.
Since their opening in July 1973, more than 5,500 volunteers and children have participated in the program. Today, there are nearly 525 people involved. Only a small percentage of the children have entered the juvenile court system during the time that they were involved with Project Uplift.
Lauren Hoepfner is a junior at Auburn University from Madison, Ala. She is majoring in microbiology.
Hoepfner has been volunteering her time and friendship to a child through Project Uplift for more than a year now.
“I decided to get involved with Project Uplift my freshman year of college,” Hoepfner said. “I had always dreamed of being a mentor to a young child and I thought Project Uplift could me that opportunity.”
To Hoepfner, being a mentor through Project Uplift has been one of the best experiences she has had at Auburn thus far.
“Project Uplift has been the most rewarding organization I have ever decided to take part in,” Hoepfner said. “It’s crazy to think how much of a difference I am making in someone’s life.”
Being a mentor has also helped Hoepfner grow as a person.
“I have learned so much about myself through the program,” Hoepfner said. “I have learned to be appreciative of everything I have and all of the wonderful opportunities I have been blessed with in my own life.”
Through the program, Hoepfner is paired with another Auburn student. Together, they mentor a 10-year-old girl named Annie.
“We normally take Annie the park or to an event hosted by Project Uplift,” Hoepfner said. “Annie loves playing tag, swinging on the swing set and eating ice cream.”
Hoepfner said she would love for more students to join Project Uplift.
“Project Uplift is a wonderful program to be involved with,” Hoepfner said. “It is such a rewarding experience that is hard to find anywhere else.”