BUILD volunteers completed six Texas Aggie Medical Clinics (TAMCs), its largest number in one year. Texas A&M BUILD is closing out the academic year with the accomplishment of a major milestone – reaching $1 million in contributions since the student organization began in 2013. It’s a landmark achievement that […]
Texas A&M BUILD is closing out the academic year with the accomplishment of a major milestone – reaching $1 million in contributions since the student organization began in 2013.
It’s a landmark achievement that student leaders say came during an unprecedented year for BUILD. The fall 2020 semester began with strict health and safety guidelines for volunteers. In addition to wearing masks on site at all times, students also implemented tool sanitation measures and protocols that limited the number of Aggie volunteers allowed on the BUILD work site to 40 at one time.
Despite this, said CEO Robin Bowden ’21, it ended up being BUILD’s best construction cycle yet. The organization completed six Texas Aggie Medical Clinics (TAMCs), its largest number in one year – one more than the usual five.
“We definitely powered through and had to make changes, and in the end we did the best job that we have done so far,” said Bowden, a mechanical engineering major.
The work was completed by 1,286 Aggies who worked just over 9,000 hours, said CFO Micah Zimmerer ’22, a biomedical sciences major. BUILD also had a record-breaking year financially. In 2020, $155,100 in cash donations and $61,500 in in-kind contributions totaled $216,600 in revenue.
A major donation in February also brought the organization’s total fundraising amount since its founding to $1 million. The total includes monetary donations and in-kind contributions, Bowden said, like flooring and cabinets for the TAMCs and labor from local electricians and plumbers.
Gordon Carstens, professor in the Department of Animal Science and faculty advisor for BUILD, calls reaching the $1 million mark an “amazing feat” for BUILD students.
“For the first three or four years it was a pipe dream and a lot of hope that the students could raise funds,” he said. “Only during the last couple of years has BUILD gotten to the point where they’re not worried so much about whether or not they will run out of money. As more and more Aggies learn about BUILD and donations keep coming in, it’s going to be a big relief for students not to have to worry about whether they can even build five TAMCs each year.”
The student volunteers convert 40-foot long shipping containers into fully functional medical clinics outfitted with lighting, plumbing, air conditioning and other essentials. BUILD has previously constructed 12 TAMCs dedicated to the 12 students who lost their lives in the 1999 Aggie Bonfire collapse. This year the organization continued its focus on their Fallen Aggie Hero Project with the goal of dedicating clinics to each of the 37 Aggie veterans killed on or after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks – 20 have been completed and dedicated so far.
In total, BUILD has completed 33 TAMCs that have been deployed to 20 countries across five continents to help deliver medical service to people in need.
With the help of nonprofit organization Medical Bridges, which also stocks the TAMCs with medical supplies and equipment, BUILD connects with non-governmental organizations worldwide that provide long-term operational support for the clinics.
Three of the six clinics completed this fall are unique in that they will be staying in the Bryan-College Station community.
BUILD has partnered with The REACH Project, a local non-profit organization that aims to provide resources to third-party contract workers at Texas A&M, such as custodial and food service staff. Bowden said previous student leaders connected with REACH CEO Max Gerall ’18, who was looking for way to provide these “essential Aggies” with access to medical care and educational resources.
“We thought it was a great way to get involved in our local community,” she said. “In years past we’ve sent clinics to places around the world, but we haven’t be able to do something that’s focused within the Bryan-College Station area.”
Two of the shipping containers were completed for medical and educational uses, and the third will be used as an office and storage area. Gerall said the units will ideally be located on or close to the Texas A&M campus.
“It’s been a pretty awesome partnership. The synergy between the two organizations is beautiful – both of our organization’s members are all about serving and giving back to the community, and we were very happy to be able to partner with them to serve our very own community,” Gerall said.
One of the other clinics completed in fall 2020 will be transported to Eagle Pass, Texas. Locations have yet to be determined for the remaining two TAMCs. Later this year, Zimmerer said BUILD volunteers will travel to Eagle Pass to build a pathway for the clinic and an adjacent structure that can be used as a patient waiting area.
Current student leaders are also in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status, which Carstens said will help BUILD bring in even more donations in the future.
Bowden credits donor support of BUILD to both its humanitarian mission and dedications in honor of fallen Aggies and victims of the Bonfire collapse.
“Our main mission is to unite the student body at Texas A&M every fall semester, and we really feel like we do just that,” she said. “We have a lot of different organizations come out and volunteer with us, and individual students who come out and volunteer with us. They get to work together on a big project and see how much impact their day’s work can make on the overall project goal.”
More information on how to volunteer for BUILD or make a donation can be found on the organization’s website.