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Engineering Staff — Making a Difference

Engineering Staff Making a DifferenceThe Engineering Staff Advisory Council (ESAC) was created to give staff a voice within the College of Engineering, and to represent the unique concerns of staff to the administration. In 2012, however, members of ESAC chose to add a new area of activity: community service.

Cleaning Up the Riverbank

Volunteers pose with the impressive pile of trash they picked up along the Iowa River on Saturday, June 2.

Volunteers pose with the impressive pile of trash they picked up along the Iowa River on Saturday, June 2.

ESAC’s community service efforts got started on a beautiful Saturday morning in early June, when a small but enthusiastic team of volunteers spent their morning picking up refuse on the banks of the Iowa River as it flows through the University of Iowa campus. IIHR Assistant Shop Manager Brandon Barquist, who organized the event, estimates that the group amassed more than 1,000 pounds of trash. Volunteers also sorted the refuse for recycling before it was disposed of.

Barquist is a member of the University of Iowa Engineering Staff Advisory Council (ESAC), which sponsored the event, with help from UI Facilities Management, the Office of Sustainability, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Volunteers collected trash from the pedestrian bridge near Hancher to the railroad bridge just north of Benton Street.

Barquist says the project is part of ESAC’s commitment to community service. “We feel a special attachment to the river and the environment we work in every day. We’re glad to have this opportunity to help make things a little better.” Jackie Hartling Stolze, a member of ESAC’s Community Service Committee, agrees. “We’re here every day, walking along the river and working nearby. We feel a certain amount of responsibility for taking care of this place. It felt good to do something to make a difference, no matter how small.”

Fighting Hunger
In December, ESAC took on a new challenge: fighting hunger in Johnson County. The Iowa City Press-Citizen organized “Stock the Pantry,” a food drive to benefit three area food pantries: the Crisis Center, North Liberty Community Pantry, and the Coralville Ecumenical Food Pantry. Several other area organizations participated, including ESAC, 10 area elementary schools, and Hy-Vee.

ESAC members Jennifer Rumping and Sandy Gerard with food donated at Hy-Vee.

ESAC members Jennifer Rumping and Sandy Gerard with food donated at Hy-Vee.

The food drive was part of national Make a Difference Day on Oct. 27. ESAC encouraged faculty, staff, and students in the College of Engineering to bring nonperishable food items to work Oct. 24–26, and volunteers at area Hy-Vee stores encouraged shoppers to pick up an extra item or two to donate as they did their grocery shopping. All the donations went to area food pantries.

Melissa Ward and other ESAC members joined Press-Citizen staff to volunteer at area Hy-Vee stores on Make a Difference Day, greeting shoppers and telling them about the project. Ward says it was a rewarding way to spend a Saturday morning. “Not only is it gratifying to donate your time, but this particular event opened the act of giving to others in the community.”

Aguirre says their goal was an ambitious one: to gather 100,000 pounds of food, enough to supply the three food pantries for a month. Although the effort fell short of the goal, the volunteers still amassed 32,000 pounds of food — enough to make a big difference for hungry families in Johnson County.

Aguirre says it’s easy to see how important the food pantries are — just stop and talk to a few people who use the service. “They wouldn’t have enough food to eat without the help of the pantries,” he says.

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Last modified on June 29th, 2015
Posted on November 30th, 2012

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