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Community Partners Event Reflections

Engage Dallas hosts 3rd Annual #1Day4Dallas

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.

Our volunteers were shuttled to our thirteen sites throughout the South and West Dallas communities. They served with After8toEducate, Austin Street Center, Brother Bill’s Helping Hand, Dallas Furniture Bank, Empowering the Masses, Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support, Greenspace Dallas, Jubilee Park Community Center, Legacy Cares, Our Saviour Community Gardens, Sunny South Community Garden, The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, and Voice of Hope.

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!

Categories
Event News

Engage Dallas Hosts the Second Annual One Night for Dallas Reception

On April 20, 2023, Engage Dallas hosted its second annual One Night for Dallas: a celebration of SMU’s students, staff, faculty, and community partners serving Dallas. The event was held in the ballroom of the Hughes-Trigg Students Center, and guests were treated to a light reception and dinner before the program began.

The evening started with inspiring words from SMU’s Vice President of Student Affairs, K.C. Mmeje, reminding us that while we are celebrating our work this year, there is still plenty to learn and do. His words were followed by our three keynote speakers for the evening: Dr. Crystal Clayton, Executive Director for the SMU Hegi Family Career Development Center, Courtney Cuthbert, Chief Operating Officer for Brother Bills Helping Hand, and Tammy Johnson, Executive Director of Empowering the Masses, who shared their inspiration for service and encouraged the audience to find the source of their own passion.

One Night for Dallas also allowed students to share their service successes. Student leaders from Mustang Heroes, Alternative Breaks, The Big Event, and Engage Dallas provided an overview of their programs and revealed how many hours they spent working with community partners on and off campus this academic year. Together, they hosted over a thousand volunteers and were able to reach out to the broader campus community to encourage service and engagement.

The end of the night concluded with the Service Awards. One Night for Dallas features five unique awards each year, honoring student volunteers, student leaders, and community partners. The final award presented was the Outstanding Community Partner award; it honors two partners who actively participated in SMU’s service programs during the 22-23 school year. We are excited to congratulate For the Love of the Lake and Brother Bill’s Helping Hand for their amazing partnership!

We thank all our volunteers and attendees, congratulate all our award winners, and are ready to see you on April 9, 2024 for One Night for Dallas!

Categories
Reflections Uncategorized

In the Rear View Mirror: A Fall 2022 Semester Recap

Fall 2022 was an exciting semester for Engage Dallas! We hosted 50 events resulting in 1,408 total hours served in the Fall semester, with 8 students earning their Community Engagement Proficiency & Experiences (CEPE) through Engage Dallas. Let’s reflect on some of the highlights from this semester. 

September – Boaz Commons’ Service with CitySquare 

On September 17th, students from Boaz Commons volunteered with CitySquare to restock their food pantry. Students helped load carts of ready-to-go meals from North Texas Food Bank for CitySquare’s mobile food pantry and helped restock the freezers and refrigerators with frozen meats to prepare for the neighbors that would visit the food pantry.  

Last year, CitySquare’s food pantry supplied 2.5 million pounds of food to 11,700 neighbors who utilize their services.  

October – McElvaney Commons’ Service with Genesis Women’s Shelter  

Engage Dallas Student Director for McElvaney Commons, Sabeen Baledina, partnered with 6 other McElvaney residents to volunteer at Genesis Women’s Shelter. They packed donated items into trucks, organized clothing, accessories, and shoes, re-racked items, and sorted new donations. 

When reflecting on the Direct Service event, Sabeen shared, “We were there for 2 hours and made some real progress! Although we were all separated, we all still felt really good afterward. One thing that I really liked was learning so much more about Genesis’ Mission. When we first walked in, Nicole gave us a run-through of what Genesis is all about and how their mission can associate with a thrift shop.” 

100% of all proceeds from their thrift stores go directly to Genesis’ other services for survivors of domestic violence. All of Genesis’ clients can shop at the Thrift Store at no cost. This is incredible because each client can pick out what they need for their unique situation – furniture for a new apartment, interview attire, or new shoes. 

November – Ware and Boaz Commons’ Service with Our Saviour Community Garden 

Ware and Boaz Commons collaborated to host a direct service event at Our Saviour Community Garden. Volunteers were split into two groups: one group weeded two garden beds, and the other group helped load wheelbarrows and wheeled them to different areas around the garden. Volunteers made walkable paths to the garden beds and around different trees throughout the garden with woodchips to prepare for the upcoming season.   

The student volunteers and the Student Directors enjoyed getting to help Our Saviour Community Garden prepare for their next planting season and make the garden a more beautiful place. 

December – 8 Community Engagement Proficiency & Experiences (CEPE) Earned 

In December, Engage Dallas celebrated 8 Mustangs who completed their CEPE through participation in Engage Dallas. Each student completed at least 20 hours of service. Engage Dallas is one of the most widely available opportunities to earn the CEPE required for graduation. Students who consistently volunteer with Engage Dallas could potentially earn their CEPE in one semester! Learn more about getting involved with Engage Dallas here 

General Engagement Event – We Are All Homeless with Armstrong Commons 

The Engage Dallas Student Director for Armstrong Commons, Kelsey D’Esopo, collaborated with the We Are All Homeless organization to host a general engagement event. Kelsey shared the following on this collaboration “I had a great time working with Willie to help him plan and prepare an event that he holds so near and dear. It was another great way to see the impact we as students can have on the community and world around us, despite many of us thinking that we can’t really insight change.” 

Solo Service – Nicole with RowDallas 

Solo service provides an opportunity for SMU students to volunteer on their own schedule and to support unique individual volunteer opportunities. Learn more about solo service here. 

SMU student, Nicole Sood, shared the following about her experience with RowDallas, “I have really been loving my service with RowDallas! The kids are fantastic and extremely bright! The team for RowDallas is also great. They didn’t have anyone to emphasize the Computer Science aspect of their program, so I’ve been lucky enough to put together some basic programming projects for the students and really get them excited about learning C++!”. 

RowDallas makes rowing more accessible to Dallas youth, helping students to succeed on and off the water. They teach students to push themselves beyond the ordinary and discover what they are capable of when they work as a team. 

The Engage Dallas Team is beyond proud of the leadership of our Student Directors and grateful to have served alongside so many world-changing Mustangs this fall. We want to thank the 485 student volunteers who served with us and congratulate the 8 students who earned their CEPE credit. To continue engaging with us, please follow us on Instagram @smu.engage.dallas and bookmark the Engage Dallas Event Calander to stay updated with our upcoming events. To learn more about the initiative, visit the Engage Dallas website.  

 

Categories
Community Partners Event Reflections

#1Day4Dallas 2022 Recap

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!

Each of the 11 Residential Commons were represented with a total of 123 students serving across nine different sites throughout the South and West Dallas communities. Participating partners included: After8toEducate, Dallas Furniture Bank, Empowering The Masses, Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support, Our Saviour Community Gardens, Restorative Farms, Sunny South Community Garden, The Bridge, and The Senior Source. Collectively, participants contributed nearly 500 hours of direct service to support these organizations.

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!  

Categories
Announcements Boaz Commons Community Partners Event Kathy Crow Commons Loyd Commons News Reflections Ware Commons

#TBT… One Night for Dallas

On April 13, Engage Dallas, along with the Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement (SCIE) co-hosted the inaugural One Night for Dallas community partner reception. This reception honored the collective work of SMU service organizations, faculty and staff members, and community partners who work together throughout the year to make a positive impact and create sustainable change in the Dallas community. In attendance were students affiliated with Engage Dallas, The Big Event, and Mustang Heroes, SMU faculty and staff members, and community organizations.  

Danielle Palomo welcoming guests to One Night for Dallas.

Attendees enjoyed dinner and dialogue and heard remarks from our very own Jennifer “JJ” Jones, Executive Director for Student Development and Director of SCIE, as well as Dr. K.C. Mmeje, Vice President for Student Affairs.  

We also honored students, staff, faculty, and community partners who have done outstanding work this year. Award categories and winners below:

 

Do Good for Dallas award winner, Jonathan Liu.

Do Good for Dallas – Vikas Bobba, Lilly Chapman, and Jonathan Liu

This award is presented to three first- or second-year students who engaged in service for the 2021-2022 school year. These students are rising stars within their residential community or service organization and demonstrated leadership qualities that has benefited both SMU and Dallas.

 

Outstanding Student Director award winner, Kirk Thomas.

Outstanding Student Director – Kirk Thomas 

This award is provided to an Engage Dallas Student Director who has gone above and beyond through planning service projects and educating their commons on the importance of their social problem and the impact of serving. 

 

Outstanding Student Leader award winner, Connor Healy.

Outstanding Student Leader – Connor Healy 
This award recognizes one student leader from Mustang Heroes, The Big Event, or Alternative Breaks who has dedicated their time to serving their community and serves as a leader to their peers and organization members.

 

Outstanding Faculty/Staff award winner and Kathy Crow Commons Faculty-in-Residence, Daniele Forlino.

Outstanding Faculty/Staff – Daniele Forlino

This award highlights one faculty or staff member who supports students in planning or leading service projects throughout the year. Additionally, this recipient serves as an advocate and connector between SMU service organizations and the greater SMU student population. 

 

Outstanding Community Partner – Legacy Senior Communities and Rebuilding Together North Texas 
This award honors two community partners who have actively participated in SMU’s service programs during the 2021-2022 school year and work closely to create engaging service opportunities for students. 

Congratulations to all of our winners! To our students, staff, faculty, and community partners…thank you for all that you do! 

One Night for Dallas attendees congratulating all of the winners.