Ernst Drives Community Service Spirit

Posted by: Jean Lloyd - February 19, 2019

Taylor Ernst (Baylor University, 2019) has dedicated countless hours to helping others on campus and in the Waco, Texas, community while studying at Baylor University.

He founded and has served as president of Baylor Helping Hands since May 2016. Baylor’s Helping Hands organizes weekly service projects to help the Waco community. The group has raised money to help purchase medical equipment for disabled children and families in the community. So far, the organization has helped around 21 families.

“It all started when I met one of my best friends, Tony Zhang,” Ernst explained. “We met as freshmen at Baylor outside of our dorm when I noticed him one day struggling mightily to make it back from class. Tony has fairly severe cerebral palsy and was using a walker to get to and from class. After seeing him in the street, covered in sweat, I decided to go and get my truck and give him a ride back to our dorm. After talking with him, I discovered that it took him around two hours to get to his farthest class and every day he would have to decide whether or not he would go to class or be able to eat a meal. About a month into school, he was failing almost all of his classes and was most likely going to have to drop out.

“I decided to start a GoFundMe to help raise the money to buy him a scooter to use for transportation. The GoFundMe went viral and we ended up raising more than $6,700 when we only needed $750. God had once again provided, and I felt led to use the extra money to start an organization that helps kids in the area with disabilities receive any type of medical care they may require (wheelchairs, wheelchair ramps, scooters, hearing aids, supportive positioning chairs, feeding chairs, hydraulic chairs, etc.).”

Ernst serves as sergeant at arms for his chapter and he has served as philanthropy chair and community service chairman for the past three years. His chapter is very involved with community events, especially with Helping Hands. “There are about 15 fully active members and around 50 show up to help out at the service projects and all of our Helping Hands special need’s dances,” Ernst said. The chapter also gives to Helping Hands financially and always provides entertainment and a free DJ at their events. Chapter members built two separate wheelchair ramps for families who have children with disabilities that couldn’t afford to purchase ramps for their kids.

Ernst has also inspired his chapter and his campus community to join the bone marrow registry—Be the Match. “We hosted our first and second ever Be the Match campaigns on campus,” he said. “We have hosted these events and have broken the record for signups in this area by around 100 people.”

One Ernst’s favorite new events is the Delt Burrito Project. “Twenty to 25 members get together almost every Sunday and make around 100 breakfast burritos. After making these burritos, we drive around the Waco community and hand them out to the homeless and try to start up a conversation with them.”

Since September 2016, Ernst has been a volunteer with Steppin’ Out. The volunteers participate in cleanup activities around the community. “I partnered Steppin’ Out with our chapter to help us get weekly service projects and give us jobs that normal groups don’t have the manpower to take on by themselves,” Ernst said.

He has also been a leader at two different Kings Club locations in Waco since March 2016. The volunteers play with inner-city children, read Bible stories to them and provide them with snacks once a week. Ernst started the second Kings Club group for chapter members only and they paired with a sorority to go to a separate government housing unit in Waco weekly.

Ernst and members of his chapter have also fixed playgrounds in the community, done landscaping for an elderly couple and painted inside a church. His chapter has also raised money for JDRF.

Since 2017, he has been a volunteer with the Sunshine Kids Foundation. “Every summer I volunteer for a week with Sunshine Kids and absolutely love being surrounded by such inspiring kids,” Ernst said.

He was a recipient of the 2017 Baylor University Outstanding Males in Community Service Award. He was a recipient of the 2016 IFC Outstanding Service Award and received a $500 scholarship.

“Delt has without a doubt been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my four years here at college,” Ernst said. “Delt has given me the community and support to achieve anything that I set my mind to. My brothers are constantly reaching out to me to support whatever idea I can come up with to serve our community in the best way possible. They contribute their time, money and support to make an impact in the Waco community that will last a lifetime and for that, I am eternally grateful.

“Without this chapter, it would be much tougher to achieve some of the things we have done. They have also been the sole reason behind why we were awarded the 2016 Philanthropy of the Year and my IFC Outstanding Service Award as well as my Outstanding Male in Community Service for 2017. After everything that they have helped me accomplish, I will definitely stay involved as an alumnus.”

Ernst is training others to take over the Helping Hands organization after he graduates but still plans to continue holding a leadership position as an alumnus. “I know that God has laid a passion on my heart for children with disabilities and know that if I am obedient wherever I go that I will continue to serve those in my community who have special needs.”

He will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management in 2019. He is undecided about this future career but is considering sales. He is from Huntsville, Texas, and plans to stay in his home state.