College students and volunteering are seldom looked at as two entities that are heavily involved with each other. In Laramie, with LASSO Events, however, the narrative is a bit different.
LASSO Events, headed by Tim Snowbarger of Colorado, is a volunteering program he brought to the community to help those in need, while also spreading the Gospel.
Initially, Snowbarger came to Laramie to restart the Nazarene First Church, which he said shut down three years ago. However, after witnessing the number of churches in Laramie and the good the churches were trying to do around town, Snowbarger said he switched paths.
The birth of LASSO
“We decided to build a relationship with other churches, nonprofits, businesses and the city to try and help find volunteers for any needs that exist in town,” Snowbarger said. “So that’s where LASSO’s inception kind of came from. The idea was to get ‘roped into serving.’”
Snowbarger started the program in February of 2018 and said the program pairs anyone who is eager to help those in need with those who require the assistance throughout the community.
Originally, he said, he was more geared toward college students, but soon realized he is not just getting help from students, but many different people who want to help the community.
“It’s really just a faith-based non-profit that is trying to promote community service in town,” Snowbarger said.
College students step up
Though he shied away from making it all about college students, there are two college students who have taken their passion for helping others and ran with it, who are also Colorado natives: Delaney Mullins and Kelli Judd.
Mullins said she was a long-time friend of Snowbarger’s, so when he came up to Laramie to start the project, she was eager to hop on board.
“I’ve actually known Tim since I was a kid, he is a family friend of my parents and I grew up with his kids who are my age,” Mullins said. “I did some volunteer work before Tim (started LASSO), at places like the Soup Kitchen and homeless shelters, and I have gone on seven missions trips with church groups when I was growing up, to give back to different communities.”
Judd is Mullins’ best friend, which she noted was partially why she was so quick to start helping as soon as Mullins pitched her the idea.
The duo has volunteered through LASSO at multiple events, such as the 4th of July “Freedom Has a Birthday” event, weekly farmers markets, Laramie Foster Closet, Family Promise of Albany County and the Eppson Center for Seniors.
The two both particularly enjoyed the Eppson Center, and Judd noted some of the elderly ladies at the center loved them so much that they all went to a movie together.
“They have senior citizen classes and activities and we volunteered there to help serve dinner,” Judd said. “They have a weekly dinner, every Monday, so we just helped out with that and it was really fun.”
College students and lack of initiative
“I think as college students, we’re generally very selfish at this age,” Judd said. “But volunteering is a way to meet new people with different experiences and to help them.”
Judd might be onto something. In a study done on college campuses, even though college students say they want to help and volunteer, the actual amount of those who actually do go out and help is quite slim.
Mullins agreed with Judd, and with the study, in that she believes college students often find themselves thinking only of themselves, neglecting those who need help in the community in which college students are part-time residents.
“It’s important to look beyond just university life and out into the community we live in,” Mullins said. “It’s a great way to get outside your familiarity, humble yourself, gain experience, meet new faces, get passionate about something and learn more about the community to live in.”
In Wyoming, on the other hand, the lack of students actually making the effort to volunteer is not the case. In another study done in 2015, Wyoming ranked number one in the number of college students who actually go volunteer within their communities.
Snowbarger may help to get even more students volunteering, as he noted he often looks into the university to find students who have community service hours to fulfill and often manages to find students who have a real passion to serve.
“A lot of the people I’ve found, it is just innate in them that they want to help,” Snowbarger said.
Snowbarger said the program’s mission is to “connect those in need with those who serve,” and said they are always looking for more people to come help volunteer at various events.