CHADRON – Civic leaders and private residents alike were eager to offer praise for work accomplished by Chadron State College volunteers during the fifth annual The Big Event (TBE) Saturday, April 22.
Megan O'Leary, CSC graduate assistant with The Big Event, said 544 volunteers worked at 54 job sites including indoor and outdoor painting, yard work, trail maintenance, roadside trash removal, and social events with elderly citizens.
Rural resident, Terri Foppe said thank you just doesn’t seem adequate to express her gratitude to The Big Event volunteers who moved fire wood at her home on Deadhorse Road.
“We don't have family out here, so this is fantastic. The students have so much energy. To have happy people come out to work is wonderful," Foppe said.
O’Leary said she’s been amazed to see the event grow and she’s excited for the years ahead.
“I couldn't have asked for a better planning staff and I think everything on the day of the event went relatively smooth," O’Leary said.
In addition to running smoothly, the event attracted family members and friends of volunteers from outside Chadron.
Aliya Uddin, an online CSC business major drove from Sheridan, Wyoming, to Chadron to help her friend Jazmin Perez with the Social Work ice cream social at Crest View Care Center.
“I’ve never done something like this in college. It’s really cool and good for the community,” Uddin said.
Perez has been a dietary cook and aid at Crest View for several months. The two met while they attended Sheridan College together.
Rich Kenney, assistant professor, said the turnout of Social Work majors and the friends they brought along combined to make the largest student group of volunteers, to date. Warm, sunny weather and music playing in the background combined to make the occasion especially pleasant, Kenney said.
Sherl Bosch, Crest View activities director, said the first-ever outdoor ice cream social was a special treat for the residents.
“It brought smiles to my face to see the joy everyone had during The Big Event. It was a very nice day for all,” Bosch said.
Deb Cottier, Executive Director of Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation, said she believes the student volunteers receive rewards in return for their work.
“They get the satisfaction of being part of the community and become acquainted with people other than those on the south side of 10th Street. Everybody wins,” Cottier said. “The Big Event has been a big boost for projects in Chadron that need physical labor. From help for elderly to assisting the city with clean-up projects that can't be accomplished during regular 40-hour work weeks, CSC students have stepped up each year to provide that labor.”
Chadron City Council member and CSC alumnus Miles Bannan described The Big Event as a great collaboration between the college and the community.
“Just within Chadron, they've helped several property owners with cleanup projects that were overwhelming for them to do alone and done major work in the parks,” he said.
Glen Kotschwar, job site manager at the United Methodist Church, said it was hard work to just to keep up with hauling away the lawn and yard debris collected by the members of the CSC Dance Team.
Education Coordinator with Keep Chadron Beautiful, Jacki Dailey, echoed accolades for volunteers who assisted with the Earth Day event at the Dawes County Courthouse.
"Once again, we had some great volunteers help. They did a terrific job taking down displays and booths after festival,” Dailey said.
Dr. Shaunda French, faculty adviser of The Big Event, and student leaders have presented about the success of the CSC event at the national The Big Event conference at Texas A&M four times.
—Tena L. Cook, Marketing Coordinator