The teams stand in front of the Adventure Trek’s main tent.
CHATTANOOGA (mocsnews.com)– The dawning sun breaks and scatters across the glass roof of the Tennessee Aquarium, shining its myriad rays on the dozen volunteers of RiseUP Cooperative, who hastily move to set up tents, tables, and merchandise. They’ve sacrificed their Saturday for this, but there’s a smile on every face. One volunteer, Danielle Jones, explains why she volunteers for RiseUP: “At first, my friendship with Sandy [the founder], I wanted to support her. Continuing on, I see the growing impact RiseUP has, as well as the way volunteers are appreciated and supported.”
Today has been months in the making, and everyone is almost humming with glee. They’re hosting a scavenger hunt, the inaugural run of an annual event, and rush to prepare kiddie pools filled with water bottles and ice, baskets filled with carryable snacks, an array of fruit, and some chocolate treats for any who wish, no participation required. They only ask you listen to RiseUP’s mission and what they offer.
What is their mission? RiseUP’s CEO and founder, Sandy Pricer, describes why she started the non-profit. “Knowing that so many youth aren’t prepared adequately for their futures and how to be independent is a concern… [I witnessed] it first hand and while adopting three of our kids from foster care helps them and their futures – there are so many others [my husband and I] knew we could also help.”
RiseUP offers free, publicly accessible workshops by cooperating with outside organizations to bring in a variety of experts on topics relevant to youth enrichment. All you need is to sign up on their website, where they list upcoming workshops with online and in-person participation.
It’s 8:30am and early arrivals are trickling in. The event doesn’t start for another half-hour, but these wily participants are seeking to get an early edge on their competitors. They take time to glance over RiseUP’s snack tent, array of yard games, and the event’s sponsors, before signing in at the main tent.
Early arrivals sign in to the scavenger hunt.
After that, the teams take off across Chattanooga’s historical downtown, tracking down specific monuments, residences, and iconic locations. One task instructs them to record team members waltzing in the Read House; another tells them to photograph a teammate scaling Highpoint’s exterior wall.
The hunt wraps up, and everyone returns to the starting area on the Chattanooga Green by 11:30am. The prizes are distributed among the winners, who smile tiredly as they receive their winnings. The prize table is fun, but the real goal of today was the experience. “We loved it,” says one participant. “We’ll definitely be back next year.” The teams disperse at 12pm, and the volunteers move to “break camp.” Tents are lowered, perhaps with less speed than this morning, but they can’t help the weariness brought by the day’s business.
In a few weeks several of the volunteers will be helping with a workshop, this time on firearm safety. They maintain a list of upcoming events on the Workshops/News page on their website, where they also have a blog dedicated to mental health, parenting, and other topics.
“To continue growing- to be be the go to for life skills and leadership skills across the county and surrounding counties,” Pricer describes her hope for RiseUP’s future. “To have a large staff and program that can accommodate all requests for workshops. Touching millions of lives.”