Big event just keeps getting bigger

Marcus Clem | copy editor

A project that involves 900 students working at 100 job sites may seem big, but the Big Event also needs a student government officer to spend an entire year preparing for it.
“It is a relief for sure,” said Elle Walker, SGA Big Event director. “The event went off very smoothly for the size of it all and I couldn’t be more happy about that.”
The 2013 Big Event was actually a little bit smaller than the 2012 project, with about 30 fewer students participating, Walker says.

Crista Cunningham, senior in graphic communications, paints the side of a house as she works at Big Event with Gamma Epsilon Tau. The Big Event took place on Sat. April 6 at many sites around the community.

Crista Cunningham, senior in graphic communications, paints the side of a house as she works at Big Event with Gamma Epsilon Tau. The Big Event took place on Sat. April 6 at many sites around the community.

Pre-event ceremonies

She says she believes that this event’s new features, highlighted by a performance by the Shane Duling Band of Frontenac, made participation beyond the community service more beneficial and engaging for students.
Not everyone agrees.
“They made us sit for a good 45 minutes,” said Adrian Blount, senior in fashion merchandising. “It’s early in the morning, it’s Saturday, people just want to go do what they were assigned to do.”
The Big Event morning activities also shouldn’t be used for promotional purposes by the SGA political campaigns, says Mary Butler, sophomore in psychology.
“I did not really like that they took advantage for volunteers to listen,” she said. “I guess it was a good opportunity for the candidates. I felt like that Taylor (Gravett) was at a huge disadvantage, being forced to talk at an event that his competitor put together.”
Walker says that she believes having these presentations before work begins is appropriate.
“As an SGA-sponsored event it only makes sense for us to promote our elections,” she said. “This was not the first year candidates were allowed to speak at the Event.”
Walker added that she believes her opponent in the SGA race wasn’t disadvantaged.
“…I understand it may have seemed as a disadvantage for Taylor, but he was given the opportunity to speak in front of just as many people as I was,” she said, “and, I feel like our students here at Pitt State are intelligent enough to know how to separate our platform speeches from my event.”
After the morning presentations, supplies were distributed and student-volunteer groups proceeded to their job sites, which are located throughout the area.
The biggest benefit for the Hispanics of Today was a new “grandma.”
“The lady we helped was super nice, she is definitely someone we will visit now,” said Gloria Lopez, HOT president and sophomore in communication.
HOT members rendered aid to Dorris Neely, 91, owner of the Pittsburg shop This and That. They helped pull weeds, eradicate pests and tidy up her lawn. After Neely served the group pizza, Lopez says, volunteers developed what they describe as a close personal connection with Neely.
“Dorris said she couldn’t explain how grateful she was,” said Emely Flores, freshman in communication. We all started to tear up … She stole my heart.”
Blount, a volunteer in the group, described helping Neely as a great opportunity for the end of her collegiate career.
“For me, being a senior, this is coming full circle,” she said. “I’ve seen all of the things Pitt has done for us. It was a great opportunity to show our appreciation to the city.”
Neely also showed some of her prized antiques with the group, which was of particular interest to the fashion-minded volunteers.
“She had pieces from the 1950s and ‘60s,” Blount said.

GSA helps out

Butler, a member of Gay-Straight Alliance, says that calling the project “Big” Event is something of an understatement.
“I was amazed that so many people are so willing to volunteer,” she said.
The community service is just a personally rewarding experience, says Emily Seib, another GSA member.
“I absolutely love doing community service,” Seib, freshman in nursing, said. “I love to see the smiles on people’s faces when they are getting helped out.”
Though GSA participated as a group, no real effort to promote the cause of respect and equal rights for LGBT persons was made, Butler says.
“I was just there to do community service, I wasn’t really there just to spread the word,” she said. “Being gay isn’t your entire life, so you don’t just have to promote that to everyone.”
The cause is better promoted through actions over words, Seib says.

Hearts and Hammers

Working with 160 volunteers who were not given individualized job sites, the Communication Career Development course group worked with Hearts and Hammers of Pittsburg to help spruce up area houses.
“I just like the opportunity to help people,” said Megan Linn, junior in communication. “You don’t think about how something as simple as yard work is such a huge deal to them. It is something many of them can’t do for themselves.”
Linn and Taylor Patterson, sophomore in communication, went to work stripping old paint off of a house and repainting the siding. They also did work on the trim and outer doors.
Patterson says that she believes Big Event is about making a difference.
“It is about the impact on the community,” she said, “but it mostly is about the big, symbolic unity of our school coming out.”

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