The Charger Blog

‘I Am Grateful to Be Part of Creating Such an Important Event for All Westies’

I have enjoyed the opportunity to help organize WestFest, an annual festival that celebrates the close relationship between the University of New Haven and the West Haven community. Although the festival was canceled last year because of the pandemic, I am looking forward to a fun and successful event this year that will safely bring the community together.

September 7, 2021

By Christyllis Douglas ’24

Picture from past west fest event.
WestFest brings the University and West Haven communities together (photo from previous WestFest event).

As a member of the University of New Haven Mayor's Advisory Commission (MAC), I have helped organize WestFest 2021 in collaboration with our MAC adviser Dr. Chris Haynes, MAC chairperson Killian Gruber ’22, and fellow student members. WestFest is an annual community festival that will be take place on Saturday, September 18, from 12-7p.m. on the West Haven Green. There will be food, games, inflatables, live entertainment, a dunk tank, booths for University and community organizations, and more.

I am pleased to be a part of putting together such an important event. Knowing that the proceeds from the event are given to W.H.E.A.T. (the West Haven Emergency Assistance Taskforce), our community’s food bank, I feel fulfilled knowing I dedicated my time to a good cause. In previous years, we have raised more than $4000, and now more than ever it is crucial that we do our part to help those who are struggling.

COVID has impacted all of our lives since March 2020, and it is up to community members such as us to do everything we can to lift each other up, especially after all of the hardships we’ve experienced this past year and a half. It is my hope that this will be the most successful WestFest we have ever seen!

Zoom photo
First Row (left to right): Christyllis Douglas ’24, Dr. Chris Haynes, Andrew Colford ’22. Second Row: Nicholas Thompson ’22, Samuel Weinmann ’24, Killian Gruber ’22. Third Row: Cassie Napoli ’24, Christian Zapata ’22, Lia Gambardella ’24.

Serving as the marketing director and as a member of the business outreach team for WestFest has allowed me to not only support a good cause, but to build my skill sets. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into organizing an event of this magnitude. This past year, I learned how to design and execute a marketing and promotion plan. This has been a great learning experience, and I know these skills will continue to help me in the future.

As a forensic psychology major, I am often asked why I am involved with the Mayor's Advisory Commission and WestFest. The truth is that anyone can benefit from the skills we learn from putting together this event. Helping to plan this event has strengthened my ability to think critically, to strategize, to communicate, and to work as part of a team. The members of the Mayor’s Advisory Commission rely on teamwork to make this event a success, and the skills we build are critical to everyday life. I am grateful to be a part of creating such an important event for all Westies.

I look forward to Saturday, September 18, when WestFest 2021 kicks off, when we will finally see the outcome of our hard work. I hope to see you there!

Christyllis Douglas ’24 is a forensic psychology major at the University of New Haven and a member of the University’s Mayor's Advisory Commission.