The Big Event cleans up

Haljit BasuljevicReporter

Every year, a group of students gather together to celebrate service and volunteer work through The Big Event, a day spent doing community service.

This year, over 150 members signed up.

Students were grouped according to their pre-designated service site and transported by either school bus or minivan. The multitude of service tasks completed included mulching, trash-picking, renovating spaces and working with children.

“We’ve cleaned up city parks. We’ve worked with New Haven city police department on different neighborhoods to make sure they’re nice and clean,” said Office of Student Involvment Associate Director Eric LaCharity, “It’s been a variety of things, but we’re really trying to push the envelope a little bit.”

LaCharity said the Big Event not only gives students an opportunity to understand the importance of caring for a community, but also to understand the impact they are making.

Sustainable environmental systems major Ian Bergemann, a sophomore said for him the Big Event means exposing students to a life outside campus. This includes becoming increasingly sensitive to the happenings and issues that occur daily in New Haven, such as poverty and pollution.

With an opportunity for hands-on work and direct contact to these problems, Bergemann said their presence is looked upon by the people of New Haven and they have to act as role models.

“They’re understanding they have to act a certain way in order to be perceived a certain way by the community,” said Bergemann, “It shows that students need to have human skills in order to do these jobs.”

Most importantly, Bergemann said congregating in a collective effort helps increase a sense of
empathy. One of the service sites that he contributed to was a Korean War Memorial, helping re-mulch and picking up needles.

“The idea isn’t to make something look better or make something be better. It’s to show that we care for the community,” said Bergemann.

Psychology major Joaquin Selmeski, a sophomore, said he was enthusiastic to participate this year.

Last year’s experience, he said helped him learn more about the leadership roles in governing community services.

As a peer mentor, Selmeski said he has helped incoming freshmen understand the active roles both within campus as well as outside and shape the program by teaching new peer mentors about coordinating volunteering events.

Like many other volunteers, he said he sees the event as a big “thank you” to New Haven for being a proud home, and that volunteer work could not be more deserving.

Photo Credit: Will Aliou

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