Community service day to honor Gandhi

By David McLain


Nationally and at Baylor, people are gathering to celebrate the life work of Mahatma Gandhi by serving their local community on Saturday.

The event, called Be the Change, is coordinated nationally by SAALT, South Asian Americans Leading Together, to honor Gandhi.

The event will start at 9 a.m. at Russell Field, where participants will receive shirts, have breakfast and listen to a speaker before leaving campus to serve at various locations in the greater Waco community around 10 a.m.

The SAALT website describes Be The Change as a national day of service to inspire and foster community building through volunteerism.

Be The Change is always held the first week of October, in honor of Gandhi’s birthday on Oct. 1. The Facebook page states that this year’s theme for the event is “When Your World Meets The World.”

The event has an online registration located on its Facebook page.

“People can just show up,” said Cypress senior Nabi Sheikh, chair of the Be The Change committee. “The more the merrier. We just ask that you register for T-shirts and food, because that’s what will be provided. We are anticipating around 100 people to come out, and we’re going to provide them with breakfast and lunch.”

Be The Change is locally coordinated by a committee made up of members from the four Baylor sponsor organizations: Delta Chi Omega, Delta Epsilon Psi, Indian Subcontinent Student Association and Kappa Phi Gamma.

“Gandhi’s work was a lifestyle of service, and that’s what we’re trying to do with everyone that comes out for Be The Change,” Sheikh said.

“It was a day dedicated to him for all the stuff he’s done for India and the world,” said Houston senior and ISSA president Roshan Patel. ‘Be The Change’ grew out of that.”

Participating students will divide into groups and go into the surrounding community to serve at different locations.

“There are eight to 10 different sites we are going to,” Patel said. “All of them are legitimate sites like Mission Waco’s kids club program, Salvation Army, Caritas and Cameron Park.”

Sheikh said the participants will also serve at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, Emeritus Senior Living and also assist in a highway cleanup.

Randall Fowler, community development specialist for Baylor’s Martin House Office of Community Engagement and Service, will speak Saturday morning at Russell Field after breakfast on the impact of service in the community.

“Our overarching goal is to help students invest where they are interested in the community,” Fowler said. “It’s goal is to emulate the life of Gandhi by being the change in our community via service. Our job is to come alongside and equip students to do that on their own.”

Fowler said the Office of Community Engagement and Service works with many of the signature service events, such as Steppin’ Out, Relay for Life and Up ’til Dawn, that represent Baylor to the community.

“Be The Change is one of these signature events that takes place on Baylor’s campus that our office supports,” Fowler said. “Our role is, yes, to equip our students but to also know what is going on in the community. We function as a partnership facilitator.”

Sheikh said she hopes people use this event to build relationships with different service-oriented organizations in Waco.