The first annual Big Event took place at the University of Dallas on Saturday, Nov. 6. The event, open to current students, faculty and alumni, occurred from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., according to UD’s calendar.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to exercise corporal works of mercy, and to do so in a way that’s going to build up our local community external to UD. I’m really encouraged by the efforts of the organizers, and the great response to this invitation to serve those in need within our local community,” said President Jonathan Sanford.
The Big Event is a community service effort to help local Irving houses with beautifying their exteriors.
The idea originated from sophomore politics major Aubrey Wieberg’s initiative to have more volunteer opportunities for students to get involved with the Irving community, and from Provost Dr. Tammy Leonard’s experience at Texas A&M with a similar Big Event.
Wieberg, director of the Big Event, worked with various UD staff, the Irving city council and student volunteers to orchestrate the event.
The student executive council played a central role in setting up the event, especially members Edy Harold, Taylior Hampton, Grace Bascon and Alexa Hassell.
“On campus you get in a bubble, but when you get to meet residents, you get to talk with them and learn their story. You get to work with other students on a common job, and faculty as well. The goal is to have a positive influence on the community and help however we can,” said Wieberg.
Over the summer, Wieberg contacted the city of Irving Communications department and Keep Irving Beautiful, who then posted information on the city Facebook page and sent email chains for households to sign up to receive volunteers.
Shannon Blatt, the director of career services & employer relations, and the office of Career Development also have provided logistical support in the organization process.
“Myself and Christina Nguyen have helped with things like ordering supplies and getting the invoices paid. We’ve done a lot of events over the years and had some experience in putting some of these things together so we offered Aubrey some suggestions along the way, but she’s absolutely taken the lead,” said Blatt.
Bags were prepared from donations with equipment and snacks for the volunteers during the beautification process.
It had no cost to UD; however, some departments chose to contribute part of their budgets towards it. The rest of the donations were from generous alumni and The Home Depot, who donated some of the equipment, according to Blatt.
The volunteers consisted of an estimated 270 students, 15 graduate students, four alumni, 13 professors and staff, according to Wieberg.
Volunteers checked in between 7:30-8 a.m. and went to their preassigned household groups. They received breakfast and listened to speeches by Wieberg, Leonard, Sanford and Rick Stopfer, the mayor of Irving. Then, Hassell, the program director, dispersed them to their households.
From there, they went and helped the households with various outdoor work to beautify the community.
The Big Event marks the beginning of what will hopefully become an annual event at UD, concerned with outreach to the Irving community.
“Next year we’ll have a better idea of the timeline of the process. This year we knew what needed to get done, but in our minds some things were faster than others. After everyone knows my vision, I’m hoping we’ll have more student leadership as well,” said Wieberg.