Monday, November 18, 2013

In My Own Words: Be The Change, Roadblocks and Rewards

"In my own words..." is a platform for our community members to share essays, poetry, art, reviews, commentary, etc. If you would like to submit something, please email Kaylia at Kaylia@gaycentralvalley.org



Be the Change: Roadblocks and Rewards by Curtis Lee


My name is Curtis and I am the current treasurer for United Student Pride or USP for short. We are an LGBT organization on campus at Fresno State. I am very new at writing for large audiences but I want to give it a try

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I am writing this article as a retrospective reflective response to a recent event that USP hosts every year called “Be the Change”. I was the chairperson for the event this year but I could not have done it without the other officers and especially our dedicated members. About a month has lapsed since the event; yet, our very last paperwork item was finished last week. Being the treasurer, I am responsible for any paperwork dealing with monetary transactions.

Our event last month was the 4th annual Be the Change held on October 10, 2013. Going into the planning phases in late August, our group thought we would have it easy because we have done the event before. Little did we know that the biggest challenge was actually to invite various organizations to hold informational booths on campus.

ROADBLOCK NUMBER 1. No previous members had saved any contact information. This means that invitations had to be drawn up from scratch and sent out to organizations without having a specific person to contact. Facebook came in handy. Most of the invitations were sent out via facebook but some organizations can only be contacted through their own website.

Zoyer Zyndel was our most knowledgeable alliance because he gave us a list of potential boothers who he recalled from memory. He was the most valuable member (MVM) during the whole process. He augmented our sub-par list of organizations to invite. He also was able to suggest a list of potential guest speakers who I was able to contact through facebook.

ROADBLOCK NUMBER 2. The funding for this event was solely done through a funding process by Associated Students, Inc. Thankfully, USP was approved for a $400 grant which went towards promotional items and supplies. We spent $13 shy of that amount. Early on in the planning process, I formulated an itemized budget prior to requesting the grant from ASI. Our promotional items included buttons, stickers, fake tattoos, flyer designs and flyer printing. Our supplies included tape, canopy rentals, table cloths, and paper weights. The weather in early October is so unpredictable so we rented canopies if it happened to be sunny; we budgeted in paper weights in case it happened to be windy. It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day!

Why is this a roadblock? In the case that clubs get approved for ASI funding, most expenditures have to be paid for out of pocket and then reimbursed later. This put a lot of pressure on the members because we don’t make a lot of money, yet. The reimbursement forms (which I am in charge of as treasurer) require multiple signatures so it may take a while to process. Remember that itemized budget I had mentioned? Well, somehow, expenses kept popping up which I had not included in the budget. This meant that more personal money had to be fronted and which meant more paperwork had to be done. We are very lucky that we did not surpass our allocated grant amount of $400.




REWARD NUMBER 1. I started to receive RSVP emails from organizations who were interested in boothing at Be the Change. Some of the messages were so endearing. People were writing me and telling me stories about how college was in the 1970’s and the 1980’s. Some people have such touching life experiences and I am honored to receive the messages. They were telling me how very important Be the Change is to LGBT life and expressions of culture. I couldn’t have been more delighted that perfect strangers were so supportive of USP.

The turnout was far better than expected. We invited 23 organizations and 23 showed up. 2 of the booths were church booths who actually support LGBT members. 5 of the booths were student lead organizations. Many booths were specialized in clinical care and healthcare. We were impressed by the amount of support that we got.

REWARD NUMBER 2. Shortly after the event was over, we started receiving invitations to hold booths at other people’s events. We are happy to reciprocate because we are actually an excellent resource for students. Our group members are so diverse, energetic, and lovely to be around. We have since held a booth at an alcohol awareness event at the dorms at Fresno State; we will hold an informational booth at the transgender day of remembrance; we were approached by several guest speakers who came to club meetings and offered their knowledge and support services to our group.




Conclusion: 

Our growth potential is huge. It is almost like being in the twilight zone because our level of importance is being realized. As a member of USP, I had only hoped to make friends and help around with little things. I wasn't an over-achiever but I wanted to make sure my legacy is a good one. Now that I am an officer, I see things from a different role. Our members are the life of USP and subsequently the life of LGBT culture. I wonder sometimes if they know it.


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