Geaux BIG volunteer event led by Ascension women

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
That's a lot of people. 2016 Geaux BIG group photo

Three Ascension Parish women took leadership roles this year in the annual LSU Geaux BIG service event held this weekend, and it will include flood recovery work from students.

Geaux BIG is a year-long event for those who take leadership roles. This year, Jessica Bollich of Gonzales took on the role of director of volunteer recruitment. Bollich is an elementary grades education senior at LSU also enrolled in the Holmes master's program. She is a member of Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana (A+PEL). She is also a graduate of East Ascension High School.

"It's an academic year-long effort to plan just one day of service," Bollich said. "We spend the Fall semester recruiting job sites. It can be a resident, a non-profit organization, small business, park, school, or church. Pretty much anything can be a job site providing it can benefit from volunteer services. Then in Spring, we focus on volunteer recruitment."

Bollich said that they spend days doing table-sits, speaking to classes and student organizations, and going to faculty meetings in order to recruit. She and her group have done quite a job, having recruited nearly 1,700 volunteers. This year, the focus of Geaux BIG was also on the flood.

"There are many people who are still trying to bounce back from that [flood], still trying to get back into their homes, still trying to get back to some kind of sense of normalcy in their lives," Bollich said.

One particular volunteer site of is a residential flood victim still not back in their home. With the help of the Geaux BIG marketing team, including Hira Hasan of Geismar, Bollich explains they were able to reach out to flood victims to offer help.

"There's trash in the streets, and they're still trying to get their house together," Bollich said. "The fact that we're going out and helping them sort through stuff and clean up a little bit for one day is overwhelming for some of these people because some of them feel like they were forgotten. The fact that LSU is saying 'we're here to help' means a lot to people."

Hasan, director of marketing for this year's Geaux BIG event, is a biochemistry junior who lives in Geismar. She is working towards becoming a doctor.

"The event is open to LSU students and faculty," Hasan said. "We make teams of people or student organizations to go out and serve the community whichever way they can. The way we estimate the [worth] of the service day is based on the amount of work we get done. It's not actual donations. It's that we did this amount of yard work, that would have cost this amount. We total it based on that."

According to the 2016 data, this one day of service is valued at over $115,000.

"I work with my assistant director to do social media posts to advertise the event," Hasan said. "We made a training video for volunteers for how they can get ready. We are the main contacts for the event. We work with LSU Campus Life marketing."

Hasan said she's always liked to do service activities. She made her start in Volunteer LSU. She said she's had some small projects like cemetery restoration. She graduated from Dutchtown High School.

The third Ascension woman involved with the project is Baylor Barron. Barron is the director of community outreach for the 2017 Geaux BIG event. Barron is a microbiology and French junior from Prairieville. She attended St. Joseph's Academy.

"I started working in August," Barron said. "I planned committee meetings with my assistant. We knew that with he flood we had a lot of people who needed our help this year."

Barron said that they went door-to-door this year and asked if people could use their services. She said that she is in charge of getting last minute things together before the big day. She is applying to medical school in Shreveport this year. She aims to maybe become either a pulmonary or cardiology pediatrician one day.

Geaux BIG geauxs down this Saturday, April 1, in the Baton Rouge area.