The Impact of a Lifelong Friendship of Service

ONE Campus is committed to partnering with other fantastic organizations that work in the non-profit and social justice field. This blog is guest written by Blake Sandridge, a Master’s student at the University of Arkansas. Blake’s passion for service and social justice led him to attending IMPACT Conference and he currently serves on the conference’s Sponsorships Committee. This is the story of how IMPACT Conference has influenced his life.

Throughout my time in college, I considered myself to have a great network of friends. But I felt the need to develop lifelong friendships with people who wanted to change the world through service and advocacy.

IMPACT Conference is known as the biggest annual civic engagement conference for students in the country. The 4 day conference is hosted by a different university every year and it brings in over 800 college students who choose from over 90 workshops to participate in.

Photo credit: IMPACT Conference/Facebook

I was introduced to IMPACT by a friend who happened to be working with the conference and was serving as the coordinator for my internship at a community center here in Arkansas. I took a leap of faith and spent the last few pennies in my bank account to make my way to Southern California, looking for professional inspiration. What I found was the most passionate and energized group of young minds that I’ve ever been around. I found a sense of purpose and before I had a chance to catch my breath, my dreams of deeper connections were starting to materialize.

One afternoon of the conference, I took a walk to settle my thoughts and was stopped by a few guys I had met in a workshop earlier that day. We decided to hop in the car and head to the beach to clear our minds. (The most productive and thought-provoking conversation CAN take place with your toes in the sand — don’t let anyone else tell you differently.) We spent the next few hours talking about how we each saw ourselves making an impact in the world. One of those guys I had the good fortune to meet was ONE’s very own Fady Tawadrous — my first lifelong friendship rooted in service. We connected through service and a desire to improve the lives of those around us.

Photo credit: IMPACT Conference/Facebook

In the snowy, cold days of IMPACT 2016, I found another lifelong friendship rooted in service. I met Heidi Vielhaber through our time serving on the conference planning committee. We initially bonded over our love for the Rocky Mountains and live music, but our conversations over a beer and chowder in Boston were filled with professional goals, dreams of advocacy opportunities, aspirations and hopes for the future. Our friendship is built on a foundation of the shared goals of service, unification, advocacy, and activism. (Heidi also encourages me to step out of my comfort zone, to do things I have never done — like finally crossing Telluride Bluegrass Festival off of my bucket list!)

Photo credit: IMPACT Conference/Facebook

Have you ever wanted to have a friendship that makes you feel like you can make the world a better place? How about the opportunity to meet more than 800 other people who want to harness their passion for service and cultivate it through relationships with people from around the world? Come to the IMPACT National Conference. Meet us, share with us, share in the passion, and you will be rewarded in ways you never thought possible.

Head to for more information and register to IMPACT 2017  at Washington University in St. Louis, MO on February 16-19, 2017!