Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Southeast Serves completes projects over weekend

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Southeast Serves hosted its fourth annual Southeast Serves Weekend from April 7 through 10, working with several student volunteer groups to help the Cape Girardeau community, as well as contribute to projects on campus.

"I think it went really well, the weather was really nice, so that was definitely in our favor," graduate assistant of student engagement for Campus Life and Event Services Pamela Avila said. "Unfortunately, the projects on campus on Friday had to be canceled because of the power outage, but there were still projects off campus that went through."

The biggest project of the weekend was Softer Nights for the Homeless, an initiative that had students create comfortable mats, similar to sleeping bags, out of plastic bags.

Other large projects involved students helping prepare for an Easter-egg hunt, work at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, clean up on campus outside Brandt Hall and Carnahan Hall, along with several other projects.

"We try to get as many opportunities and projects as we can so students have a lot of options to volunteer," Avila said.

Last year, Southeast Serves Week lasted six days, with 612 students volunteering to help over the course of 1,463 total hours. While this year's event only went four days, Southeast Serves has seen a large amount of volunteers throughout the rest of the year.

"One of the improvements I've tried to make as the graduate assistant is to keep a live track of the community service hours," Avila said. "I think I've been able to keep up a much better system of keeping track right after events happen, [heading into Southeast Serves Weekend] we've got about 7,000 hours and 900 volunteers."

Director of Campus Life and Event Services Michele Irby said one of the biggest benefits for Southeast Serves hosting a large amount of volunteers over the course of one weekend is exposure to the community. While Southeast Serves conducts many projects throughout the entire year, they can be spread out and not seen, but if there are several projects going on at the same time, community members are more likely to see the volunteers' work.

"Our goal [during Southeast Serves Weekend] is for people to see us in lots of different places, we buy shirts and try to get out, doing it in groups," Irby said. "We try to support our agencies that are so good to us the whole rest of the year, we want to make sure that we really show people what we're doing."

Irby said even with the additional help and attention, the goal for Southeast Serves remains the same.

"Our whole thing is as long as people who want to serve have the opportunity to and the agencies we partner with are having their needs met, that's what we care about," Irby said. "We also want more, always hope for more, our goal is to increase, but as long as those projects are being met, that's our most important priority."