Posted April 8, 2014 by Mandi Bryson 

Saving Lives One Soap at a Time

At 6:30 a.m. this morning, ACUI turned into exactly what everyone preaches about: A community of those wanting to help. I was fortunate to help them set up yesterday and, when I left, I was not too sure how we were going to move everyone through the space.

Instead of 1,400 chairs there for the Monday keynote, there were assembly line tables with supplies for building personal hygiene kits and boxes for sending them to those who need them most. Each region had its own line, but this was not a competition. The new regions came together to make a difference in the lives of almost 10,000 people through the organization Clean the World. What was even more amazing was we were giving back to a local community.Clean the World

At first, this seemed like a three-cup-of-coffee morning; I only needed two. The energy from more than 700 delegates packing bags and boxes was enough to pass time all too quickly in an environment that made ACUI feel like home. I choked back tear. There was music, singing, dancing. There were newcomers, students, veterans, board members, ACUI Central Office staff. There were no titles, no status symbols; just one large group of people who wanted to make a difference.

I had a chance to talk with a few volunteers about their experience during the project and all three had one theme: positive energy. Conference newcomer Lynne Palmer from the University of Florida described the experience as high emotion.

“I’m typically an emotional person,” she said, tears welling while talking about her experience. “You get all of these people together in a room, add the music, and the structure, and it just screams positive energy. The event was interactive, progressive, and exuded such a positive vibe. In one word, it was just awesome.”

Paul Ford from Appalachian State University commented on how well the planning team did on structuring the event for such a large group of people.

“It was amazing to see that many people come out for such a great cause. We really made a difference this morning,” he said. 

Our bodies may have been exhausted, but our spirit and minds left this morning with such a high that I hope it will carry throughout the day, the week, the year, and beyond. ACUI is the best organization (in my opinion) for so many reasons, but this morning, I was so proud to watch our amazing group of people of so many backgrounds come together to help save the world. #SoapSavesLife

Mandi Bryson

Mandi Bryson is the Associate Director for Events & Operations at College of Charleston.

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