Student creates new organization for service

In the span of two days, sophomore Javonte Powell created a new student organization at Northern Kentucky University – Make it Right.

Make it Right was created much more quickly than the typical two months it usually takes for other organizations. Powell drafted the constitution in one hour and presented it to Student Life in its entirety.

For Powell, the creation of Make it Right on NKU’s campus meant a lot more than having a new organization on campus. Powell was raised in New Orleans, and his family was evacuated during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Make it Right is a national organization originally started by Brad Pitt to aid in reconstruction efforts of the 9th Ward in New Orleans. Powell and his family lived in the 9th Ward, so the organization Pitt started holds special meaning for him.

However, Powell wasn’t just looking to start another M.I.R team. According to Powell’s friend Deonna Evans, a junior social work major, “This organization gives students an opportunity to not just help victims in New Orleans but to help people around the metropolitan area. [Powell] wants to incorporate community service around Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Make It Right is strictly for service.”

Powell echoed this sentiment by explaining that he would like the group to not only focus on New Orleans recovery efforts, but in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky as well, by helping the elderly and working on HIV/AIDS awareness.

“I was happy to be a part of it, especially when he told me the purpose of the organization and what he wanted to do with it. I thought it was amazing,” said Deborah Strahorn, the Make it Right faculty adviser and coordinator of African American Student Affairs.

On Jan. 19, Make it Right held its first event, Bayou Bash, to help those who were interested learn about the history of New Orleans and the experience of Hurricane Katrina from someone who lived there when it occurred. Powell also used the opportunity to explain the goals of Make it Right. For Powell, the event was more emotionally charged than he anticipated.

“I had woke up the day of the event, teary eyed, crying, just thinking, seven years ago, I was figuring out how we’re going to make money to survive,” Powell said. “And seven years later, I’m standing up in front of a crowd and have my own organization.”

At the event, Powell walked the 57 attendees through New Orleans’ history and culture. He also served homemade jambalaya and beignets. During his presentation, Powell said with enthusiasm, “Anything you can throw at New Orleans, we’re going to celebrate it, and celebrate it with a passion.”

Powell said the attendance of the first event surprised him. “I was flabbergasted. I was very surprised, because I haven’t been very sociable coming back, because I was really just focused on school. Coming back in, seeing that those people still cared about me, whether I was sociable or not, meant a lot.”
Strahorn said that seeing the organization flourish so early is rewarding. “Especially for a new student organization, I think that doesn’t happen often – to get that big of a turnout. That just tells me that there are other students on this campus that think that this is really important.”

Powell isn’t resting on his laurels though. Make it Right has seven upcoming events throughout the semester. The next event is going to be an informational meeting Feb. 1, to help students learn more about the organization.

Powell said it would most likely be held in the Student Union, but to keep checking campus calendars for more information.