USF NAACP will host The Cupid’s Shuffle Speed Dating tonight (Feb. 13) at 8:30 p.m. While the organization’s president is excited for the amorous festivities, she won’t be looking for love.
She’ll be looking for new club members.
“We haven’t had much of a presence on campus since I’ve been here,” said President Vanity Shields, who became a member in 2009. “But with me being president, I want to be that annoying organization that every time you turn around you’re wondering, What are they doing?”
The USF NAACP chapter has more than 200 members, however, only about 50 are paid members of the national organization. Because USF Activity and Service fees do not support the organization, the chapter relies on memberships and fundraising to fuel its campus presence.
But the optimistic psychology major has not lost hope.
“At the time when I joined, I became the community service chair, but we really didn’t know what we were doing,” Shields said. “We were relying on other chapters to see what they were doing and feed off them, but they threw us out into the wilderness and had us figure our way out.”
Since becoming president, Shields utilized social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to reach as many followers as possible.
But her main focus as president is to break down social stereotypes and barriers.
“We aren’t just another black organization,” Shields said. “We are a multicultural organization. If you’re any kind of color, we consider you a colored person.”
Bethany Hemmans, a fourth-year business major, joined the NAACP a month ago, despite being a friend of Shields for more than two years.
“I didn’t join because of her,” Hemmans said. “But I saw the involvement she had with the organization and saw the positive impact they were beginning to have and create, and I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself.”
The Cupid’s Shuffle will be the organization’s third fundraiser since Jan. 1 and seventh event since Feb. 1. While the three-minute dates are free for students and the public, the organization will sell candygrams, flowers and teddy bears in sets for $2-$7 to offset some costs.
Hemmans said she hopes to find love tonight – or at least a “like.”
“I may not find the right guy,” Hemmans joked. “But I’ll find the right guy to spend Valentine’s Day with.”
Shields, however, isn’t worried about her future.
Last week, she was offered a position as second vice president at the college level for the southeast region of the NAACP – a position that would cause her to make weekly trips to Tallahassee but bring her one step closer to her dream job of working full-time for the NAACP.
“So many students take positions for their resume,” Shields said. “But if I can’t devote 110 percent to it, then I’m not going to do it.”