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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Service in the Lone Star State

Photo by Kaylee Cogbill

William Brown, director of the Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy, served as the moderator at the discussion about volunteerism on Tuesday.

Tuesday evening the Bush School’s Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy invited students and activists to learn about service in Texas from those who are leading the charge.
Among those leaders were First Lady of Texas Cecilia Abbott, CitySquare CEO Larry James, OneStar Foundation CEO Elizabeth Darling and regional Wells Fargo Bank President David O’Neil. Each spent the hour speaking to attendees about how to succeed in volunteering and the steps Texans can take to see service reach new heights.
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and senior professor Frank B. Ashley III opened with a quote from late former President George H.W. Bush: “There can be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others.”
Ashley said Aggies at the Bush School have dedicated themselves to these ideals through their academic and occupational lives.
“Here at the Bush school, we are proud of the fact that over 70 percent of our graduates go into public service upon graduating, while other schools typically range from 20 to 40 percent,” Ashley said. “If you ask our students why they are here, I can almost guarantee that their response will be because [they] want to serve others.”
Director of the Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy William Brown said service is the driving principle behind the center’s efforts.
“What matters, in the end, are not possessions,” Brown said. “What matters is engaging in the high moral principle of serving one another. It is the connections we have to each other that can make a difference.”
Abbott focused on how to serve the state as a whole and said her top priority is to encourage Texans to give back through volunteerism and service. Abbott explicitly praised an organization within Texas A&M which she felt fulfilled this mission.
“One of the first groups we honored with the Governors’ Volunteer Award, in the first year of Greg’s first term, was The Big Event here at Texas A&M University,” Abbott said.
The event featured a panel moderated by Brown in which James, Darling and O’Neil discussed a range of service-related topics. O’Neil spoke about Wells Fargo’s efforts to motivate its workers to give back.
“Every team member gets two days they can go out and serve with paid time off for philanthropic or volunteer activities,” O’Neil said. “Team members can also get paid time off from three days to three months, where they can take a leave of absence, allowing them to serve a significant role in a philanthropic setting.”
On the topic of expanding service, James said through his 20 years of experience, he has learned what motivates volunteers and what doesn’t.
“If we didn’t engage the people with the problem and the solutions to the problem, we were going to misfire badly,” James said.
James said volunteerism and service has steadily decreased throughout the state over the past years. He asked the panel about the importance of reversing this trend.
“Government can’t do it all,” Darling said. “As much as some might wish that it could, it cannot do everything. It’s about relationships and building those bridges across sectors to make progress on these problems that [government] can’t fix alone.”

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