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NSLS Success Stories, Leadership Development, Make a Better World, NSLS Chapter Spotlight

Rio Salado Chapter Mitigates Hunger and Homelessness

Tara Hayman, Chapter President at Rio Salado College in Tempe, Arizona, is proud of the way her chapter came together to pull off a major community service event.

“During the week of November 12-20, 2022, our chapter organized a donation drive for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.”

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is traditionally held the week before Thanksgiving. It’s an annual nationwide event sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, a project of the Student PIRGs.

Each year, over 700 colleges, high schools, and local groups participate to raise awareness and encourage volunteer participation to alleviate food and housing insecurity.

Collaboration Leads the Way

A successful community event on the scale of the chapter’s donation drive requires input from and collaboration with stakeholders. It also requires strong organizational skills and excellent communication.

“We worked closely with the marketing team at Rio Salado College and they submitted a press release and featured us on the school's blog. We communicated with members via email giving them the opportunity to sign up for this event and partnered with Phoenix-based UMOM New Day Center for this drive. In order to make this a successful effort, we had to practice good organization, oral and written communication, and goal setting.”

The event’s success helped motivate members to be even more active with and focused on community service.

“We’re working hard this term to make our chapter truly student-led and help members succeed and improve their leadership skills. We’re planning out the semester to include events and activities that allow members to continuously engage, volunteer, and give back to our community.”


The Impact of a Successful Event

The event had an intense impact, not only for chapter members, but for local community members as well.

“Leading up to Friday's packing event, we collected [donations] every day that week. The event was attended by Rio Salado College President Kate Smith, NSLS members and advisors, several employees, and family and friends. The donations were picked up by UMOM on the following Tuesday morning.”

The experience was transformative for Tara, who encourages other chapter leaders and members to help fight homelessness and hunger in their own communities.

“Homelessness does not discriminate and can impact anyone so it’s important to join movements to help end it. Volunteer, donate, and educate to help those in need.”

Antonette Pearson, another member of the Rio Salado chapter, was quoted in a college publication in full agreement with Tara.

“To overlook homelessness is to overlook humanity. Regardless of economic status, homelessness affects us all. Community efforts and support are one of the many solutions to ending this crisis.”

Defining Leadership for Yourself

Leadership styles and approaches differ from person to person. By developing your own skills and gaining experience leading a team toward the successful completion of a major project, you also refine your own viewpoint of good leadership.

“Leadership means that I have an opportunity to uplift others, and I’m in a position to display a level of success that encourages personal and professional growth. If the only way you’re climbing up is by pushing others down, you’re not a good leader.”

Being part of the NSLS is often cited by many chapter leaders as instrumental in their leadership journeys. Tara’s experience demonstrates how skills training and opportunities to put those skills into practice can help create strong leaders.

“I’ve grown so much since joining the NSLS and the Executive Board for our chapter. I was very comfortable with staying in the background but it was time for me to show the leadership skills that the NSLS encourages. I’m continuing to step out of my shell and push myself.”



If you want to make a difference and build a better world, you can set your sites locally or think more globally, like this chapter did.