Students, Businesses Engage at Paint the Town Blue Expo
ECSU junior Emmanuel Butts, far left, attended Wednesday’s Paint the Town Blue Business Expo to begin engaging with area businesses. Butts is the creator and organizer of a new campus organization, Viking City Outreach. Junior Diamond Vann, center, speaks with an organization while attending the expo. Vann says she spoke with members of Albemarle Hopeline and will be volunteering with that area nonprofit.
Elizabeth City State University student Emmanuel Butts, dressed in his ROTC uniform, armed with a desire to reach out to the greater Elizabeth City community, began making the rounds at tables during Wednesday’s Paint the Town Blue Business Expo at the Ridley Student Center.
The expo, part of the many events held during the 2018 Viking Homecoming Week, is designed to create partnerships with area businesses and organizations, according to Russ Haddad, ECSU’s director of economic and community engagement. Students, faculty and staff were invited to attend the expo and find out what the area’s business community has to offer, and what ECSU can offer them.
Butts says he is in the midst of organizing the Viking City Outreach organization, currently made up of 12 ECSU students. The idea, he says, is to let the Elizabeth City community know that ECSU students are here to be of service to them, and he hopes the community organizations and business will, in return, be of service to ECSU.
“We want to get the students out and engage with the community,” said Butts.
Butts and the other students are working with Haddad to reach out to these and other community organizations. Haddad says the idea for Viking City Outreach started with Butts.
“He saw a need to elevate the relationship between the university and the community and have students engage more,” said Haddad.
Butts and other students took the opportunity to visit with businesses such as Albemarle Sentara Medical Center, the YMCA, Cricket cell phones, PNC Bank, the Albemarle Area United Way and Albemarle Hopeline.
Sentara representative Annya Soucy says they were there to let students know they have a number of services to offer them. Hopeline, a domestic violence shelter and counseling service, was there to raise awareness and let students know they’re here for them if the need were to arise.
But some students, like Diamond Vann, a junior psychology major, saw Hopeline’s presence at the expo as an opportunity to get out in the community and engage as a volunteer. Vann spoke with Hopeline interim executive director, Heidi Prentiss, and counselor Megan Hiner, about volunteer opportunities with the shelter.
“Whatever they allow me to do,” she said of her desire to volunteer.
Trinity Harris is a sophomore and elementary education major from Upstate New York. She said she spent her freshman year at ECSU close to campus, but figures it’s time to get out and explore the area. She said the expo was a great opportunity for her to discover more about the region.
“I’m learning a lot about the businesses and places,” said Harris. “I talked to the lady from Museum of the Albemarle about what they have going on there.”
Each year during Homecoming, thousands of alumni and families converge on Elizabeth City to celebrate the Viking Spirit. Haddad says partnering with local businesses during the week-long celebration is a way to bring the campus and community together.