New club makes service a routine

The club aims to hold small, impactful events for students five days a week.

Jack Rykert, a freshman majoring in theater, wants others to think of community service as routine, like exercise. He created Hour of Good to be a low-commitment and no excuses approach to acts of kindness. (Emma Silverstein / Daily Trojan)

One Wednesday, Jack Rykert — a freshman majoring in theater — stood outside of Tutor Campus Center for five hours holding a cardboard panel with a QR code taped to it that read, “SCA/SDA 1ST YRS. TALK 2 ME!” Though it may have seemed odd to passersby, that piece of cardboard — and the meeting that would follow — were the culmination of years of thought, family and acts of good. 

Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, Rykert said he regularly took time out of his day to care for Luke, his nonverbal autistic brother. His actions were small — such as feeding and bathing — but they became core aspects of his life and made him feel good. Rykert decided he wanted others to feel the same way he did about community service: that it can be something one doesn’t even actively think about doing, like going to the gym.

So, he created Hour of Good, and took up sign-spinning to attract others to his cause. 

Hour of Good aims to get members to commit to doing one good thing for one hour a day, five days a week. It can be small, like giving someone a compliment, or larger, like donating money to those who need it. Overall, Rykert wanted the task to feel routine, for there to be no excuses for it not to get done, because he saw that a barrier for some of his classmates was that they had other things on their minds. 

“I noticed a lot of people saying that community service wasn’t really a priority for them, or that it seemed like a very big commitment,” Rykert said.  

To help others get over this hurdle, Rykert wanted the events that Hour of Good does to be simple tasks and for the club to be low-commitment, something that a student could easily adopt into their schedule. 

But, like exercising, he said, “that first day you go to the gym is the hardest. And people are like, ‘Oh yeah, I can do community service, I just don’t have time for it.’ That first hour is going to be the hardest one because you have to block time out of your day, but if you keep doing it, you don’t realize you’re doing it anymore. That’s why I encourage people to come.” 

To raise awareness for his new club, Rykert first made fliers and put them up around campus, advertising directly to School of Cinematic Arts and School of Dramatic Arts freshmen with editing experience and an interest in filming or assisting with a social media project focused on community service. When that plan ultimately failed, he moved to his cardboard sign. The result of his efforts was the approximately 20 students — mostly film and theater majors — that showed up to his first meeting. 

Though the club is open to all majors, Rykert said he advertised to SCA and SDA students exclusively because the club was looking for creative students willing to do open-ended service initiatives that may bring them a lot of attention. 

Rykert and other members agree that despite the club’s use of an Instagram account, there is a need for multiple layers of editing on all posts to ensure their content does not sensationalize simple acts of kindness. (Emma Silverstein / Daily Trojan)

At Hour of Good’s first meeting on Sept. 17, they dedicated time to discuss how to integrate social media into their mission without making a spectacle of their charity. Rykert said any social media content will have to go through multiple editors to ensure its ethicality. The club does have an instagram account, @hourofgood, but Rykert said its main purpose will be to bring in new members. 

“[With] social media, there is the risk of coming off as insensitive,” Rykert said. “But the reason why we’re wanting to do it is because with something like Hour of Good … the way that we’re going to get more hands to pick up trash or more people to make a bigger impact is going to be through social media.”

Tony AlRemeithi, a freshman majoring in neuroscience, had been searching for a community service organization to join at USC when he saw Rykert standing with his sign by Tommy Trojan. AlRemeithi, who did community service in high school, said he was thoroughly impressed after attending Hour of Good’s first meeting.

“It’s very organized for a freshman — someone just like me — in a club at the start so I think we have potential [of] maybe one day becoming a big organization,” AlRemeithi said.

AlRemeithi said he hopes to work with the club on outreach efforts.

Jayden Adams-Ruiz, a freshman majoring in acting for stage and screen, found Hour of Good the same way AlRemeithi did — by seeing Rykert and his sign near Tommy Trojan. Adams-Ruiz said he approached Rykert, listened to his story and idea for the club, and that was all it took to convince him to join. And, like AlRemeithi, he said the first meeting greatly exceeded his expectations. 

“It seems like a ragtag bunch of people, but I feel like these people actually want to do something,” Adams-Ruiz said. “Hour of Good is a good step toward something that could be a lot bigger over time and grow over time because the people in there, they’re driven by passion. That’s why they came out tonight.” 

While Rykert himself is pleased with how the first meeting went, his dreams are slightly more humble.

“I feel like everyone, when they start something, thinks it’s going to be this crazy thing and [make] waves,” he said. “What I hope is that for every month that we do it and every month that we put in the work, we’ll have five to 10 more pairs of hands coming to events every week … If I can look and see 20 people go in and pick up trash one day, that’s enough.”

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