October – one of my favorite months of the year! Before starting at USLI, October was my favorite month because of Halloween and my birthday, but now, October holds a new meaning to me because it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Three years ago, I was able to start an initiative with the Student Ambassadors called #USLIgoesPINK. #USLIgoesPINK is a series of days in October during which the College Help students wear pink to raise awareness and support of breast cancer.
This past October, fellow Student Ambassador Natasha Zachary and I were able to encourage the full-time USLI community members to participate in #USLIgoesPINK. Unlike past years, we wanted to capture the moment in a different way, so we organized a pink photo booth. During the last day of the initiative, there was a photo booth station located in the café of the Wayne office with pink props and signs available. For me, it was amazing to see people dressed in pink and coming together for a great cause. That day, photos were captured, smiles were had and the USLI community was able to raise awareness of breast cancer. It is my hope that the #USLIgoesPINK initiative grows to be bigger and better each year, and positively impacts those within and outside of the USLI community.
Written by: Nina-Simone Beaver
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Some of my earliest childhood memories include hanging out with my older brother at the park. He would chat with his friends while I played with the other kids. There were times that I stumbled across a used needle, cigarette buds, and shattered glass. My mother had always advised me never to touch such things; however, the other kids didn’t hesitate to examine them.
Being able to help with the Green Team playground cleanup for a fourth year has been and will always be a humbling experience. Upon arrival, I was greeted by fellow community members and instantly got to work. We used bags and gloves to remove the waste from the playground. Picking up someone else’s trash really opens your mind and allows you to grasp the reality that children are expected to play there.
Taking some time out of my Saturday morning was both beneficial to me, and those that live within that community, as I got a chance to give back and the kids will now have a safer place to play this school year. I noticed that people were watching us, and seemed so surprised to see us cleaning their neighborhood; some even stopped to say thank you. Although I’m not able to go back in time and remove the harmful waste from my childhood playground, being able to help remove it from another playground is just as rewarding.
Written by: Keona Greene
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Last year, USLI held our first Pack the Pantry drive in an effort to fight food insecurity among college students. The goal was to collaborate with universities who have food pantries, and provide them with some food and hygiene items that they could distribute to their students.
The drive turned out to be a great event, and the Student Ambassadors were very excited to bring this initiative to our branch offices this year! I had the amazing opportunity to organize the Pack the Pantry drive here in our Austin, Texas office. Part of my role was to promote the drive, and it was exciting to get a bit creative with the decoration of the poster and the donation box.
In the end, we were able to collect 193 items to donate to Austin Community College! They were very excited and thankful that we were hosting a drive for their students, since 34 percent of them are food insecure. Not only is this a great cause, but also a great way to get involved and get to know some more of our community members! It was a very fun way to gather together to participate in such a terrific project.
This year Pack the Pantry collected 5,715 items across three states, which will be distributed to five different colleges and universities. Thank you for helping us pack the pantry!
Written by: Daniela Gonzalez-Lores
How many of us thought about being a cowboy or cowgirl as a kid? I for one can say I did, and with the theme for the 2018 Community Picnic being “Hoedown Showdown” we got to dress up the way we did when we were kids. There were many really fun games this year including a Wheelbarrow Race, a cow milking game (no real cows were involved), and Corn Hole. There was even a mechanical bull for the people who really wanted to embrace the rodeo experience. It looks like whether you’re College Help or full-time, you enjoy your games.
I was able to hang out and enjoy the games with both College Help students and community members who I don’t get to see every day. I really enjoyed competing against people in the cow milking game. I actually got to help run this game for an hour, and seeing College Help and Full-time community members all trying to fill their buckets and win helped me feel more a part of the USLI community. After working at USLI for two years, I feel like the positive energy, comradery, light hearted competitiveness, and smiling faces at the Community Picnic is a great representation of the USLI community as a whole.
There was also amazing food at the picnic! I could not stay away from the barbecued pulled pork and the cornbread. My only regret is that I didn’t get to try all the food. The day ended with some incredible line dancing and a friendly but tough best-dressed contest. Overall, I loved the 2018 Community Picnic theme, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the 2019 picnic.
Written by: Kylil Kee-Redmond