Engage Dallas kicked off the 3rd quarter Community Partner Council meeting on February 9 at Austin Street Center. Organizations represented include Sunny South Community Garden, Keep Dallas Beautiful, LNESC, The Senior Source, Dallas Furniture Bank, Brother Bill’s Helping Hands, Jubilee Park & Community Center, and Austin Street Center. Community partners offered feedback on upcoming Engage Dallas events to ensure that they are community-centered and a value-add to all attendees.
The group learned about non-profit leadership and collaboration from Austin Street Center’s CEO, Daniel Roby. Roby also shared about the ways that Austin Street Center supports those experiencing homelessness. The day was completed with a tour of the newly opened center where community partners explored the commercial kitchen, donation drop-off process, dining facility & engagement center, and more. Community partners also learned about the many volunteer opportunities at Austin Street Center. Huge thanks to Jill Young, Volunteer & Community Engagement Manager, for coordinating the visit. Learn more about Austin Street Center here.
As the fall semester comes to a close, we would like to take a moment to reflect and celebrate.Students have participated in a variety of service projects this semester, serving a total of 1,519 hours, 986 of them being direct service hours in the community. Students had the opportunity to serve with a range of our community partners from After8toEducate to Empowering the Masse to Genesis Benefit Thrift Store and many more.
We heard from a couple of our first-year Engage Dallas Student Directors as they shared what they enjoyed. Hannah Green, our Student Director for Mary Hay Peyton Shuttles Commons, says, “Being an Engage Dallas Student Director has been such a growth experience for me. I love having the responsibility of planning and organizing events that other students can participate in.” When asked about the challenges she faced, she responded, “I think the most challenging part of having this position is the logistical responsibility along with the potential changes in plans that you might have to work around. Considering this, I think one thing that I have learned to develop is a solution-focused mindset.”
Miles Chen is our student director for Kathy Crow Commons. He said he enjoyed, “… working with our community partners and learning more about what’s going on in the city. It was also really fun getting to serve alongside other SMU students.” A challenge for Miles was “…getting enough students to attend the service events, so I hope more students will learn about and get involved with Engage Dallas next semester! I also hope students will get to see service as less of a requirement, and more of something fun and impactful that they have the opportunity to do!”
Students serving at Austin Street Center for #1Day4Dallas
If you’re looking to get connected this spring, consider participating in an Alternative Break trip, where you can volunteer during spring break and fulfill your Community Engagement and Civics & Individual Ethics Proficiencies and Experiences to graduate. We have trips going out to Austin, Texarkana, and McAllen. We also offer Solo Service where students can serve with our community partners on an individual basis. We thank everyone who participated this semester and look forward to working with you next semester!
Finally, if you’ve ever considered planning and leading service trips like Hannah and Miles, consider applying to be an Engage Dallas Student Director for the 2024-2025 school year. Applications open January 22.
Make sure to follow us on Instagram @smu.engage.dallas to stay connected!
On October 21st, Engage Dallas hosted their third annual #1Day4Dallas fall day of service. 151 volunteers from all 11 Residential Commons spent their morning serving with 13 of our Community Partners in West and South Dallas.
The day started off with breakfast tacos from Bonton Farms, an urban farm located in South Dallas. The Engage Dallas Student Directors and SMUSH volunteers helped check in the participants, who then heard some inspiring words from SMU’s Associate Director for High-Impact Practices, Audryanna Reed.
Staff and faculty volunteered alongside our students, participating in donation sorting, window cleaning, gardening, furniture building, and many other tasks. Volunteers were able to learn about the Community Partner they were working with, gaining a better understanding of the challenges the community is facing and the ways these organizations are supporting and enriching their neighborhoods.
Student feedback included excitement about working together with their peers, learning about the Community Partners, and helping the organizations in tangible ways. They enjoyed interacting with the employees at each site as well as the individuals who were receiving assistance. It was also an opportunity for students to learn more about the history of South and West Dallas and how that has impacted those who live there.
One student shared that “seeing people from different aspects of life (SMU or community volunteers) come together to achieve a common goal was very impactful. It’s nice to see that we can set aside our differences to work together to achieve more.”
Thank you to all who served with Engage Dallas and made the third annual #1Day4Dallas a success! We invite participants to check back with their Commons to see the upcoming monthly events and continue to serve.
Follow us on Instagram @smu.engage.dallas to stay up to date with Engage Dallas!
The 2023 Big iDeas Case Study Competition, hosted by the Housing Unification Board in collaboration with the Office of Engaged Learning and Engage Dallas, was a resounding success with four student projects receiving funding to support a community engagement event with one of their Commons’ Engage Dallas Community Partners. This year a total of $6,500 was allocated to the four winning Commons to implement their pitched events.
Cockrell-McIntosh Commons received $500 to create college preparation baskets for the students of LNESC who are planning to start college in the fall. SMU students dropped off baskets filled with dorm and basic school supplies as gifts to the students who were attending LNESC’s College Signing Day event.
Boaz Commons received $1,000 to support the planting of a fig orchard on site with their Community Partner, Our Saviour Community Garden. Boaz was able to purchase a tiller to help with preparing the plots to plant the trees. Nine students attended the planting event where they helped to plant the trees and set irrigation to ensure that the plants would flourish.
Boaz Commons Residents with tiller bought for Our Saviour Community Garden.
McElvaney Commons was awarded $2,000 to support Brother Bill’s Helping Hand (BBHH) with implementing their Neighbors Day event. McElvaney was able to sponsor the health and fitness stage where local neighbors were able to attend free Zumba and fitness classes during the event. SMU students served with BBHH staff to help manage the event and ensure that all neighbors had a fun and healthy experience.
Mary Hay, Peyton, Shuttles (MHPS) Commons took home the grand prize of $3,000 to implement their “Storytime!” event with their community partner, Heart House. MHPS residents led Heart House students in a lesson on one of four stories: Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Coco, and The Little Mermaid. All students got to take home a copy of their book along with a craft that corresponded with their particular story. Manju Warrier, Director of Teaching Programs at Heart House, shared that their “students had so much fun touring the campus, participating in the activities, and interacting with SMU students. We are so grateful for our partnership with Engage Dallas and are excited for future partnership opportunities.”This was the second year that MHPS was able to partner with Heart House to bring students to campus and Student Director, Ruhani Ahluwalia, hopes that the partnership will continue next year.
Heart House students posing on campus with MHPS Commons residents on campus tour of SMU.
Engage Dallas would like to, once again, extend their deepest thanks to the Housing Unification Board and the Office of Engaged Learning for a wonderful event. We cannot wait to see what amazing events are dreamed up for next year’s event!
On October 29, Engage Dallas hosted the second annual Residential Commons Fall Day of Service, #1Day4Dallas. Despite being a cold and rainy Saturday morning, it did not stop students from participating in showing up bright, early, and ready to serve!
From the participants’ feedback, it was evident students were happy to learn more about the purpose, vision, and mission of the community partners they served during #1Day4Dallas. For many students, this was their first time engaging in community service. #1Day4Dallas was an excellent opportunity for students to witness how our community partners’ goals align with the Residential Commons’ specific community-identified needs.
One participant in a post-assessment shared: “This was my first time ever within a senior resident center, so now I have a completely new perspective and understanding that I would not have obtained if I did not participate in #1Day4Dallas.”
Another student participant shared, “this was my first community service, and I will do it more in the future thanks to #1Day4Dallas.”
Lastly, we would like to congratulate Armstrong, Boaz, and Ware, the three Residential Commons with the highest percentage of students participating in #1Day4Dallas!
Thank you so much to all students, faculty, staff members, and our community partners who made #1Day4Dallas possible!We invite participants to continue serving with us during our monthly service events via their Residential Commons.
Follow us on Instagram @smu.engage.dallas to stay engaged with Engage Dallas!