Ryan DeJong ’05, Tampa Alumni Network leader, wanted to find an opportunity that would bring out the alumni in Florida for National Wolfpack Service Day on Oct. 15. So he looked for an event involving the one temptation anyone who has spent time in North Carolina couldn’t resist: barbecue.
We talked with Ryan about his network and how volunteering at the Bluz & BBQ Festival offers a great opportunity for service this Saturday.
How large is your network, and how many members will participate in National Wolfpack Service Day on Oct. 15? The network here is kind of spread out. I’m responsible for the West Coast of Florida. We have probably about 70 Alumni Association members. Of those, about 40 actively participate in events. I would expect about 20 to be involved Saturday.
What is the best thing about your network? There’s a couple things. It’s diversity. It’s openness. In the Tampa market, we have a lot of people coming and going. Not a lot of people grew up in Tampa, went to NC State and came back home. We’ve done a nice job establishing a core of recent graduates and connecting them to a lot of dedicated families. And we’ve got a lot of the old-timers who can tell you a lot about the timeline, either academic or athletic. It’s like creating a home away from home. That’s what one of our goals is.
What event do you have planned for National Wolfpack Service Day? This year’s event is a little unique compared to other events. [The Bluz & BBQ Festival] is one of the few festivals downtown on the water that includes barbecue from local and regional venders. I found a common thread among our alumni here is a love of barbecue, especially Eastern North Carolina style. I figured I could partner an event with that, service and fellowship. Volunteers can work event security to event setup.
Why have you chosen to partner with the festival? The money raised from this event is going back to a local community pool, the Roy Jenkins Pool. It was a historical landmark that recently shut down. With this event, they hope to raise $30,000 for the reopening. They’re estimating $1.6 for total restoration. A couple of other things is that the mayor is going to be there to meet with the alumni. They’ve planned a flash mob with the Tampa Bay Lightning cheerleaders.
What is it that alumni will gain from participating in the event? My hope is that this event will draw some people from the network who don’t participate in other events. We have a diverse lineup of events. Having something more focused on the community, barbecue and music will hopefully bring some people out and get out some other folks to show NC State has a group of engaged alumni here. It’s just getting the word out there….Ultimately, it’s about giving back to the community.
If you have any questions, contact Ryan at 813-486-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org.