University Relations and Communications

MSUB’s Service Saturday sees growth in participation


Photo of Amanda Barham
MSUB sophomore and softball team member, Amanda Barham, 19, sorts through clothing donations at the nonprofit Tumbleweed Runaway Program in Billings during Service Saturday. Photo by Blair Koch

 

 

January 25, 2016

 

Contacts:

Shayla Fox, Office for Community Involvement, 896-5817
University Relations & Communications, 657-2266

Story by Blair Koch, University Relations and Communications intern

 

More than 70 students, faculty, staff and family members volunteer their time on Saturday to help out at local organizations in Billings

 

MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Oh, what joy an organized closet can bring!

 

MSUB sophomore and softball team member, Amanda Barham, 19, sorts through clothing donations at the nonprofit Tumbleweed Runaway Program in Billings during Service Saturday. Photo by Blair Koch.

 

MSUB’s Service Saturday sees growth in participation

 

More than 70 students, faculty, staff and family members volunteer their time on Saturday to help out at local organizations in Billings

 

Oh, what joy an organized closet can bring!

 

Especially when your organization spends the bulk of its time tending to homeless and at-risk youth of Billings—you just don’t have man-hours to stack chairs and feng shui sleeping bags in storage.

 

However, joy and pride could be felt by the Montana State University Billings softball team as they moved supplies from one part of Tumbleweed Runaway Program’s facility to another. When the team exclaimed to Development Director Carrie Rigney they had finished organizing a storage closet on Saturday, yelps of joy could be heard throughout the building.

 

“This is perfect,” Rigney said, clapping her hands. “You won’t believe it, but I had a dream about this being organized and this is just perfect. Thank you!”

 

Members of the MSUB Service SaturdayOn Saturday, about 70 students, faculty, staff and family members provided community services through the first MSUB Service Saturday event of the spring semester. Service Saturday is a monthly event sponsored by the Office for Community Involvement through its Service Sting project.

 

Service Sting is incentivizing students, faculty and staff to collectively accumulate 6000 volunteer hours by April.

 

About 10 members of the MSUB softball team volunteered at Tumbleweed, which provides respite services for homeless and at-risk youth ages 10-24. The organization isn’t a shelter, but strives to offer a relaxing environment where boys and girls can grab a bite to eat, log online, get some new clothing and hygiene products and simply get out of the harsh Montana elements.

 

While some of the softball players organized storage space, others peeled potatoes for a future meal or went through donated clothing.

“We participate in Service Saturday once a month and always as a team,” said Heather Tracy, 19, and a MSUB sophomore.

 

Tracy said she likes the serving because it builds team cohesiveness and helps her feel connected to the community.

 

“I’m originally from Boise (Idaho) so I like doing this because it makes me more aware of what’s going on in Billings,” Tracy said.

MSUB’s Service Saturday has grown tremendously over the last year.

 

Shayla Fox, coordinator for the Office for Community Involvement, indicated that in December 2014 about 10 students participated. Every month since, that number has increased. On Saturday, nearly 70 individuals participated.

 

“Each month the opportunities increase for participation and we’re excited,” Fox said. “The more people that participate, the more organizations and clubs we can help and every month more groups and people are requesting our help.”

 

In addition to Tumbleweed, groups of MSUB students assisted Habitat for Humanity, YWCA, Sage Towers and the soon-to-open Rainbow Coffee House at Grace United Methodist Church. The coffee house will be open from 5:30  to7:30 p.m. on Thursday’s to area LGBT+ teens only.

 

MSUB junior Dan Mehrens-Wallace and member of student group OUT! helped paint insignia for the upcoming hard opening of the shop, set for January 28.

 

“This space is needed in part because of the recent defeat of the non-discrimination ordinance by the city council and our LGBT teens are getting a horrible message from their community and maybe from their friends and peers,” Mehrens-Wallace said. “This is meant to be a safe space for these teens, who can come and just be who they are for a couple of hours without fear of judgment.”

 

While not logged as of yet, the man-hours spent working during Service Saturday will push the time spent by MSUB students and staff even higher.

 

As of December, Fox indicated that 96 students had participated in Service Sting and collectively volunteered 3,152 hours. Thirty-four staff and faculty had volunteered 1,406 hours and eight athletic teams had given 516 hours. Eighteen students and another 15 faculty and staff members had logged at least 25 hours.

 

Service Sting also holds periodic blood drives and can coordinates volunteer projects for clubs and organizations.

“There are many ways for students to get involved,” Fox said.

 

If you want to get involved, please contact the Office for Community Involvement at 896-5817.

 

Photo Captions:

MSUB sophomore and softball team member, Amanda Barham, 19, sorts through clothing donations at the nonprofit Tumbleweed Runaway Program in Billings during Service Saturday. Photo by Blair Koch.

 

Second photo- Jackie Precildo, 18, MSUB freshman and member of the university’s softball team, gets direction from Tumbleweed Runaway Program Development Director Carrie Rigney during Service Saturday. The team spent a couple hours at the nonprofit cleaning, organizing and even peeling potatoes to help it in its mission of helping homeless and at-risk Billings’ youth. Photo by Blair Koch