From analyzing to acting, an Arkansas Tech service organization continues to grow and give back.
Tech’s Because We Can (BWC) is about to celebrate its first year as an official on-campus organization, and in
doing so, it’s begun to look back on all it has accomplished.
“We formed Because We Can with the intent of just helping society,” said Kendall Tubb, a junior psychology and sociology major from Little Rock. “As time went by, we started to focus. Our first project was the toy drive; it was very spur of the moment.”
The Christmas toy drive, which brought in $4,200 in toys, books, clothes and food for foster children in Pope County, was the first event put on by the organization. Now, a year later, BWC plans on hosting a second toy drive.
“This year we’re hoping to expand from two weeks to a month and hopefully raise double what we did last year,” said Kaylynn Newhard, a graduate applied sociology student from Russellville. “We’re handing out flyers, and there will be a box set up in the Behavioral Sciences Department, Witherspoon 346, to drop off toys.”
The toy drive will run from Nov. 8-Dec. 8, but the group will have more work to keep it going well into the spring semester.
“We have five separate projects going right now,” said Sean Huss, associate professor of sociology and adviser to BWC.
While this may seem intense for the group, that’s one of its founding principles.
“They came to me and said what they wanted to do was make a difference and be a hub for other different groups that wanted to be involved in activities,” Huss said.
“And that’s kind of what they’ve become. If you need to mobilize a volunteer force or raise a social issue or something, a lot of times people will come to Because We Can, and then we’ll work out how we can help.”
Jenna Cahoon, a senior psychology and sociology major from Yellville, echoes Huss’ sentiment.
“We’re structured as a group that if someone has a particular issue they’re interested in, we will facilitate in any way possible to raise awareness or help,” Cahoon said.
One of the organization’s latest partnerships has involved establishing a food recovery program for Tech.
“Last year I went to a round table discussion with Dr. Bowen, and one of the students asked her what was something she’d like to see on campus,” said Lauren Palmer, a senior psychology and sociology major from Alma, in a video. “She mentioned a food recovery program. The following semester, I went to a couple advisers I knew, and right away they knew this was something we could make happen.”
Her initial contact sparked a weekend trip, a months’ long organization process, and now the reception of a $6,000 grant that will fund the beginnings of the recovery program.
“We’re super excited to win [the grant],” Tubb said. “Not only do we have the money to start the food recovery program, but we have enough to start setting aside for the food pantry next semester. We are geared up to start our next step, which us starting the food recovery program. Now we will begin more networking and grant writing. We feel like this has been a success. The Tech family has come together and made a difference—that shows true ATU grit.”
The food recovery process includes partnering with Chartwells and eventually bringing in student, faculty and staff volunteers to deliver the food to local food banks, missions and shelters.
“It’s been fun and interesting to watch this all happen because it just started out as an idea, and now we’re actually doing something,” Palmer said.
Aside from the Chartwells partnership, Dr. James Stobaugh, assistant professor of sociology, has also come on board to begin advising the group.
“Going from not existing to what they’ve done in one year has been amazing,” Stobaugh said. “Now they’re sitting down and eating with the mayor and the president. They’re getting noticed, and they’re getting invited to the table for these things because people know that they care, they’re responsible and they follow through.”
While BWC is notorious for facilitating, they can’t do so without the help of Tech and the Russellville community.
“Because We Can is for students, grad students, faculty; it’s for everyone on campus,” Cahoon said.
Those interested in working with Because We Can are encouraged to contact them on Facebook at Because We Can, and on Twitter at Because We Can ATU.