When two students from different colleges took a leadership class, the result changed their perspective and their summer break.
“Last year, we hosted a youth leadership development program called Emerging Leaders,” says Greg Weatherford II, who leads Community Engagement and Special Projects at Southern Methodist University's Simmons School. Now, two of those students are in the thick of a project called 30 Days of Service where they’re striving to complete 30 different service projects during the sizzling month of July.
Some past events have taken place in Plano and Frisco, “but the majority of the rest are actually in Dallas proper,” says Alex Quian, 21, a Cornell University senior who teamed up with Brady Boyd, a 20-year-old North Lake College junior, for the project.
For one event, Quian and Boyd set up a book fair for the Plano chapter of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Collin County, and they asked the children to select books. Quian says they promised to return and host an ice cream and pizza party to reward those who read for 15 minutes at least 10 times this month.
“We know there are pools and sports and many other things to do with their time,” Quian says of the children. “Hopefully, it will create a fascination with reading and encourage them to do it more independently. If we can encourage even one kid to read and really build a fascination with that just by giving them an opportunity to read, I think that will have longer-lasting impacts.”
Other service projects have included making meal bags for the homeless and giving breakfast to close to 40 seniors at a Frisco Senior Center.
”More importantly than the breakfast itself, they just were so happy to see us and they were just so glad to see young people spending time with them,” Quian says.
The volunteer duo, which sometimes gets help from other volunteers, has had to alter their plans because of the sweltering heat. However, Quian says the most challenging aspect so far has been trying to get everything organized and in sync.
“Juggling 30 different plans that have to be brewing concurrently is quite the challenge,” he says, adding that the project wouldn't have happened without Weatherford’s mentorship. When the students told Weatherford they wanted to serve the community and do something positive this summer, he challenged them to design and do 30 service projects in 30 days.
“I am so impressed with their passion, vision and commitment to executing this massive undertaking,” says Weatherford, who also sports a background in youth service work. “In addition to planning each project, they handled all fundraising, marketing, and even secured a top-notch advisory board headlined by the CEO of Topgolf (Dolf Berle).”
Boyd and Quian have even planned a day for digital giving to show that “serving can be done anywhere, and it can be a fun activity.” In addition, they maintain a blog of the project and have plans for a how-to book filled with tips for those who want to get involved.
“We really want to inspire other young people of all ages across the country to serve,” says Quian. “Small things can still have valuable impacts in your community. There’s always a way you can serve and you don’t necessarily need to change the world in order to do it. Just get out and do it.”
And since there are 31 heat-filled days in July, “Stay tuned,” Quian says, “there could be a special bonus project.”