Students taking widespread initiative
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 01:01
Time, energy and collaboration can make an incredible impact in a community. For 60 Oregon State University students involved in OSU’s Enactus, they’ve used all three.
Enactus, an organization in the College of Business supported by the Austin Entrepreneurship program, works to maintain and expand four main initiatives. Enactus operates a sports league for children with disabilities, supports small business development, benefits national hunger relief, and micro-finances entrepreneurs and small businesses in Central America to improve their quality of living. Enactus also aims to empower the students involved to build a dedicated focus in leadership and grow professionally.
“We aren’t here only to be a relief service,” said Taylor Moor, OSU student and Enactus co-president. “We’re also about building programs that are self-sustaining that will be able to carry on long after we’ve graduated.”
Moor has been co-president of the seven-year-old OSU chapter of Enactus — formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise — for one year, along with OSU student Alli Stangel. Stangel originally joined to focus on the work the chapter was doing, centered on benefiting people with disabilities.
STAR Sports, Enactus’ league for children with disabilities, started one year ago in Linn and Benton counties. It is a sustainable program in which its entry fee is used to continue to fund the league as efficiently as possible. The program has won first place in the Oregon Social Business Challenge.
“My own personal inspiration [for Enactus and STAR Sports] was a little girl with Down’s Syndrome named Megan,” Stangel said. “She’s incredible. Children with Down’s syndrome and other disabilities have the most pure, genuine perspectives on life. Their honest outlook on everything is something we can all strive to adopt.”
While the STAR Sports League is the newest of Enactus’ initiatives, it doesn’t cease to offer more to the community. Their Community Connections Initiative helps promote local businesses. The initiative puts on the event “Wine-Down Downtown,” a wine-tasting event that highlights all local businesses in rural communities in Linn and Benton counties.
Also, the Fighting Hunger in the Homeland initiative focuses on hunger relief in the United States. While greatly contributing to emergency hunger relief with over 80,000 pounds of food raised last year, the program also strives to tackle the root causes of hunger, such as poverty and lack of education. The initiative has also established sustainable community gardens, including one at Starker Arts to not only provide a food source for children, but also to teach them how to garden and eat nutritiously.
Enactus’ international program is Sueños de la Tierra. Here, over $30,000 of micro-loans have been given to entrepreneurs and small businesses in Guatemala and Nicaragua to initiate community development in rural areas and improve quality of life. According to Moor, who has visited the relief areas both before and during the program taking place, the initiative has been impactful in his life.
“When going to Guatemala the second time compared to the first, one of the most rewarding things was to see how much the standard of living increased,” Moor said. “It was great to see the people now have heat, schooling for their children and other things we tend to take for granted.”
Enactus is a choice for the volunteers because of their passion for it.
“We don’t do this because we have to, we do this because we want to,” Stangel added. “It has been humbling to be a part of this, and my college experience has been much richer because of it.”
OSU’s Enactus chapter meets in Weatherford Hall in room B103 at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. All students are welcome.
Ryan Dawes, news reporter