Off the Clock: Micah Hodges, success coach and local cleanup volunteer


Life is much more than time spent on the clock. In this series, we highlight the unique hobbies and volunteer activities of Mason's talented faculty and staff.

Micah Hodges, at left, stands at a table outdoors with a fellow participant in NOVA Cleanups. They have materials and supplies at the table to help volunteers clean up trash.
Micah Hodges (left) volunteers at a NOVA Cleanups event with a fellow participant. Photo provided.

Micah Hodges works as a success coach in University Life at George Mason University. In this role, Hodges works one-on-one with students to help them discover what success looks like to them. He connects them with resources to help them on their Mason journey and helps them envision their personal, professional, or academic goals. Overall, coaching helps students write their own Mason stories.

Outside of work, Hodges helps sustain and develop something else: our local environment and community spaces. As a volunteer with NOVA and District Cleanups, Hodges works alongside cadres of volunteers who remove trash from public spaces.

How did you first get started with this hobby? 

I first got started with trash cleanups in July 2022. I was scrolling through Reddit one day and saw that District Cleanups had been going on for a while. They were planning to expand by making a NOVA Cleanups group (which now has their own subreddit). 

What is the time commitment?

​NOVA Cleanups meets the first Sunday of every month. By signing up for their email list, you can get information about the next cleanup. From my experience, cleanups usually take place in the morning and last until about noon. After the cleanup, there is usually some kind of informal social, which is optional.

How does the group identify specific locations to clean up? 

​When I did my first cleanup in Clarendon, the organizers shared that a number of events took place the night before in that area, which is why they chose to clean that area. To be honest, I like the mystery in where each organization chooses. It gets me out of my comfort zone and allows me to see places I have never seen before.

How can others get involved?

People can get involved with the NOVA Cleanups or District Cleanups by visiting their respective websites. You can sign up for their email lists, view upcoming cleanups, and fill out the volunteer waiver. It's very easy to get involved and takes less than five minutes to do so.

What lessons have you learned through this volunteer experience? 

Three things come to mind: First, it doesn't take much to make a difference. Your commitment, your attitude, and passion are the three characteristics you need to show up.

Next, step out of your comfort zone. While socialization can be challenging, I find that doing activities like this helps because we are working toward a common goal and doing so for a purpose.

Finally, do something that matches your values and beliefs. I pick up trash because it aligns with my core values. Actively working to make spaces better and cleaner resonates with me. If we can take trash where it needs to go, it makes our world a better place.  

What else do you enjoy doing in your spare time? 

​I like to go cycling. I loved riding my bike as a kid, so I wanted to get back to doing something that made me feel like a child again. I also play a musical instrument, the euphonium. I try to get in some practice whenever I can. I also practice yoga and meditation, which have been very grounding for me and give my life a sense of discipline when life gets chaotic.