Candles are raised in Hong Kong in 2009. Two English instructors at Weber State University have organized a vigil in Ogden, UT to support peace, following national elections, on Nov. 22. (Source: David Yan / flickr)

Jessica Richards and Ashley Szanter, both adjunct English instructors at Weber State University, have organized a vigil on Nov. 22 at the Ogden Amphitheater for community members to come together to figure out how they can serve their community.

“It is a vigil, so we are planning on kind of just having a peaceful sort of gathering together,” Richards, the primary organizer, said. “I think that’s important around the holidays and important especially now after how divisive the election has been.”

The focus of the event will be serving in the local community. Service organizations will be there to advertise what service opportunities they have that will fit students’ schedules.

“We’re hoping that they’ll just kind of peruse the options and see what kinds of service might fit into their schedule,” said Richards. “It’s a platform for (service organizations) to talk about what opportunities their organizations have and get those people in the same space.”

The organizers hope this event will be a healthy outlet for built-up feelings and a way to help people funnel their feelings into doing good.

“We’re trying to be helpers,” said Szanter. “And especially after the election that just happened, people have a lot of feelings, and a lot of them tend to be pretty negative sometimes … And it’s really hard sometimes to pull yourself out and find ways to channel that energy instead of just drawing into yourself. So this was a way that we thought would be proactive.”

A lot of students want to be proactive, but are hindered by the belief that service will be time-consuming and boring.

There are numerous opportunities to serve around the Ogden area, and this event will not only showcase those opportunities, but incorporate live music, mingling, a candle-lighting ceremony and free hot chocolate.

“You don’t just have to sit in a room and make cold calls,” said Szanter. “You could go out with Weber Pathways and help maintain trails or go to the Ogden Nature Center. You can volunteer by going through a training course to help them with birds of prey. That’s so cool. And a lot of people don’t know that’s a thing. And so what we’re trying to do is just let them know that there are so many options here, and just learning about what those are.”

The event was originally planned to launch in the spring, said Richards, but after the election left feelings running so high, they decided to move the launch up, “to get a spirit of unity going in our community and to have that space to interact and meet our neighbors. We kind of hope to promote that connectedness.”

The event will be held from 6–8 p.m. on Nov. 22, and more information about the event can be found on their Facebook event page, “Proactive Vigil for Peace, Community, Understanding.”

As is written on the event page, “We want to show people in the community that, while change at the national level seems impossible, you can effect positive change in your local community by finding ways to get involved.”

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