July 28, 2014  

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Southern Miss Gulf Coast’s Big Event Benefits Local Organizations

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John Ouille of Gulfport gets a plank ready while working on the foundation of a Habitat for Humanity home in Bay St. Louis. Ouille, a student at The University of Southern Mississippi, participated in the Big Event, a university-wide community service project. (Office of University Communications photo by Charmaine Williams Schmermund)

The sound of hammers and circular saws filled the air in Bay St. Louis, Miss., as The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast students and employees participated in the Big Event, a university-wide community service project.

Organized by the Student Government Association, Southern Miss Gulf Coast assisted two local organizations during the event held on April 3. One project involved painting and construction tasks for Habitat for Humanity in Bay St. Louis. The second project, allowing students and employees to participate with their families, contributed artwork for the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center’s upcoming 13th birthday.

“At Southern Miss Gulf Coast, we believe that an educated person becomes a full citizen and a full citizen means giving back,” said Dr. Frances Lucas, vice president and campus executive officer at Southern Miss Gulf Coast. “Through projects like the Big Event, we try to role model and get our students to understand that community service is also part of being an educated person.”

Lucas and 50 Southern Miss Gulf Coast volunteers rolled up their sleeves to work on one home’s foundation and another home’s exterior at the Habitat for Humanity site. More than 20 participants contributed to projects for the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, where the families created a garden of artwork.

“This is my first time to volunteer with Lynn Meadows Discovery Center,” said Melissa Kersey of Gautier, a senior majoring in psychology and a member of the psychology honor society Psi Chi. “This project is helping the children learn and be more social. It shows them that by helping others, they are helping themselves.”

Students are also hopeful that the Big Event will lead other students and student groups to contribute more to the community. Amanda Aubert of Slidell, La., a senior majoring in history, feels that the university is “educating the people who will make big impacts as they get out in the career field and, as they grow, they need to have that community involvement.”

“I hope that the students who are here today will come back to do other projects with Habitat for Humanity or any other organizations where they can do something good and get other people involved,” added Aubert.

For more information on Southern Miss Gulf Coast, visit www.usm.edu/gulfcoast.