PRLab’s PRoBono is Back!

The autumn sun set early on the evening of PRLab’s 8th Annual PRoBono Event. PRoBono is a 16-hour-long hack-a-thon style event open to all BU students that supports local non-profit organizations. The sky was already dark as we entered the COM building to find smartly dressed participants eating pizza and chatting amongst themselves, excitement buzzing in the air. Before the festivities of the night were in full swing, we were able to chat briefly with some of the students and faculty who were participating and involved in planning the event. 

Photo credit: Lauren Witek.

Professor Amy Shanler, faculty co-director of PRLab (who was very excited to be back in person for PRoBono this year) gave us some insight into how the PRoBono Event came to be. She had been involved since the very beginning, in the fall of 2013 when the PRLab President at the time, Julia Lidal, read about a similar event happening in another part of the country. The first event happened on the last night of the semester and had around 30 participants. Since then, the event has become a staple of COM culture with attendance this year shooting up to over 100 participants. Last year, in the midst of the pandemic, student leadership was even able to transition the event to a completely virtual format.

We grabbed a quick word with PRLab’s Director of Events, Julia Monz, over a cup of coffee. She gave the rundown of the five clients being supported at this year’s PRoBono. 

Julia Monz, PRLab’s Director of Events.

Bunker Labs

An incubator for veterans looking to start their own businesses. It provides workshops and courses to help vets get into entrepreneurship and startups. 

Little Brothers — Friends of the Elderly

An organization that works to pair younger people with elderly people living below the poverty line to help combat loneliness and form beneficial bonds for both parties. 

Humane Society for Greater Nashua

An animal shelter based in Nashua, NH that facilitates adoptions and intakes and is dedicated to educating their community on animal safety and the benefits of adoption.

Women’s Lunch Place

A return client to PRoBono, Women’s Lunch Place is a day shelter for women experiencing homelessness that offers access to food, shelter, computers, showers, and tools for personal and professional development. 

Silver Lining Mentoring

An organization that pairs youth in the foster care system to external mentors that can help them develop life skills. 

The clients’ goals for the evening were mostly focused on developing social media content calendars and assisting with media relations. Students developed content, wrote pitches, and brainstormed different avenues for the organizations to raise awareness and donations. They were even involved in event planning and promotion, web design, and doing research on new social media tactics. 

Just as the night was kicking into gear we spoke to Jali Griesbach, PRLab’s current President of Operations, who has participated in this event three years in a row. 

Jali Griesbach, PRLab’s President of Operations.

“The biggest challenge is staying awake but that ends up being the most fun part! Staying up, playing games, and meeting new people — not to mention the presentations at the end — is so rewarding,” Jali shared.

Jali was also able to give us a brief summary of the night’s events. First is a welcome address with their keynote speaker, Professor Edward Downes. This is followed by an introduction of each of the clients. Afterward, students split into groups of 20-30 and divide themselves up based on skill and interests best suited to assist each client. 

We also spoke to graduate student and first-time participant, Candice Yan, who had been paired with the Humane Society of Greater Nashua. As a cat owner, the message of the organization, to rescue animals, resonated with her. She let us know that while she knew it was going to be an intense night, she was excited to get to know her peers and get experience working with real clients. She was optimistic that together they would achieve something great. 

Candice Yan, graduate student and first-time participant.

ProBono 2021 was a night of fun, learning, and most importantly, hard work. All the students in attendance mentioned that ProBono is a great way to make friends and connect with peers both inside and outside of the COMmunity. If you didn’t attend this time, make sure to join in on the fun next year! Tune into PRLab’s social channels to keep up with events and announcements.

Hillary White, Staff Writer

Hillary White is a second-year graduate student in the M.S. Advertising Program. She’s lived all across the U.S. from Long Island, NY to Indiana to Houston, TX. She previously received a bachelor’s degree in Media Production at the University of Houston, where she fell in love with writing for screen. She’s a lover of bad art and great music. In her free time, she loves to watch movies, read poetry, and take naps with her cat Smooch.

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