Last semester, my friends and I came up with a small seed of an idea that turned into a flourishing new club at San Jose State University. This club is called SpeakOut, and it gives our fellow Spartans the chance to volunteer and to “speak out” to help those in the community whose voices are not often heard.

I’ve been an E-Soccer coach for seven years, and one day last summer I was talking with a few other coaches from San Jose State. We started talking about all the kids we have helped through E-soccer, and how volunteering as coaches has probably made just as much of a difference for us as it has for these children and their families. Although we skip out on the “typical” college student Saturday morning of sleeping in and watching cartoons, the memories we have made changing kids’ lives on wet soccer fields continue to move our hearts and fill us with inspiration that will last a lifetime.

Realizing how much joy we have gotten from helping the community sparked a new vision in our minds and we began sculpting an idea. We decided to create a club on campus where other students could experience this same fulfillment from making a difference. Through talking to different students, we realized that many of them wanted to help the community but didn’t know how.

The club exploded last semester as SpeakOut. It focuses on building connections between students on campus who want to make a difference in their surrounding community. Through a few projects each semester, students come together to see lives change and to make the voices of those in need be heard.

The club is not only changing the lives of those in the community, but also its members, who often leave their time volunteering with a contagious satisfaction from making a difference. In the last few months, here are some ways SpeakOut has already made an impact:

  • We grew to 70 members in the first week.
  • We have seen the number of coaches that come out to E-Soccer increase weekly.
  • For one of our projects students collected used books and donated over 200 books to the Third Street Community Center in downtown San Jose, an after-school program for low-income families.

We are continuing strong into our second semester and our projects this spring will include:

  • E-Soccer Awards Ceremony hosted by SpeakOut
  • A feed-the-homeless project in May.

For more information to volunteer for the club or collaboration with its volunteers please email speakoutsjsu@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter, or Like us on Facebook.

Courtney Peterson

Courtney Peterson

Courtney is a contributor to BACC Inspire. She teaches high school and is a program coordinator at Hope Technology School in Palo Alto.

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