H.E.A.T. makes impact through human rights advocacy, activism
By Andrew Osegi
From the shaded Quad to the sunny river, there is no denying that Texas State University’s campus is one of the most beautiful in the state. Keeping it that way is a challenge shared by everyone involved with the school, including its many dedicated student organizations.
The Human Environmental Animal Team, or H.E.A.T., is a relatively new student organization that was formed not only to keep Texas State’s environment beautiful, but also to serve people in the San Marcos-Austin community.
H.E.A.T. focuses on human right issues, animal rights, environmental preservation and community service. Food donation and animal shelter assistance, along with river and street clean-ups, are a few of H.E.A.T.’s many contributions to the community.
Harnessing Energy for Change
Co-founded in October 2010 by Texas State students Ian Smith and Natalie Berko, both sophomores at the time, H.E.A.T. started small with 13 to 15 members — many of them former dorm mates from Texas State’s Brogdon Hall. The group organized around a shared desire to provide humanitarian services to the San Marcos community
Now some 60 members strong, H.E.A.T. is divided into three committees: human welfare, animal welfare, and environmental preservation and conservation. Each committee brainstorms independently but unite on the group’s events and projects. There is no hierarchy in H.E.A.T.; rather, the individuals who contribute the most to the organization naturally emerge as leaders.
Smith emphasizes that the ever-present goal of H.E.A.T. is positivity.
“We want to inspire a healthy, green, self-sufficient way of life into the community without being neglectful or condescending to others,” he says. “Some organizations tend to demonize others with opposing views, but H.E.A.T. is all about the acknowledgment of good things and good people.”
In just under two years, H.E.A.T. has already received several awards for its accomplishments in helping the community. The group was recognized with the Outstanding Collaboration Boko Award (2012); the Registered Organization Boko Award (2011); the Most Challenging Job Site at Bobcat Build Boko Award (2011); and the “Cause Commotion” Do Something Club Award (2011).
“Our awards demonstrate how much H.E.A.T. has grown to be a true force of change in town and on campus,” said Smith.
Swipes for the Homeless: Students donated their extra meal trade swipes to H.E.A.T., which used the swipes to purchase and deliver meals to homeless individuals in downtown Austin.
Soles4souls: H.E.A.T. collected on-campus donations of footwear to deliver to families in need. “It was surprisingly successful,” said Smith. “People were taking their shoes right off their feet and giving them away.”
LBJ Clean-up: Every semester, H.E.A.T. members dedicate time and energy to clean streets in San Marcos. In spring 2012, the organization chose to de-litter LBJ Drive, for which it received an honorary plaque.
Clothing Collections: In 2011, H.E.A.T. collected and donated clothes to families in need in Colombia and to victims of the Bastrop Complex wildfires that ravaged central Texas.
Fountain Garden: H.E.A.T. is responsible for the flower garden near the fountain in front of the LBJ Student Center. Its contribution toward beautifying the campus is remembered with a plaque near the fountain’s base.
Spreading the Fire
H.E.A.T. hopes to spread the organization’s presence to other colleges and universities around the nation. They have contacted most of the universities in Texas, with their first successful break-off chapter in Sherman at Austin College.
The group aims to establish a national chapter with a “H.E.A.T. House” on every college campus to act as a headquarters for all students who wish to better their community and environment.
“H.E.A.T. meetings are open to the public, and we are always looking for enthusiastic students who want to join and make a difference,” said Smith. “With H.E.A.T., there are no limits to what we can do.”