OUWB community members are seeing Taylor Swift for free — and to benefit others
An image of Taylor Swift at a red carpet event
Taylor Swift on the red carpet at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards. (Shutterstock)

More than 150 OUWB students, faculty, and staff will be in Detroit this weekend — to not only witness Taylor Swift’s historic concerts, but to do so for the benefit of the community.

The Eras Tour will be at Ford Field on Friday and Saturday, marking Swift’s return to Motown for the first time in five years.

With so much built-up excitement and demand for tickets, it explains the reaction to a mass email that asked for volunteers at both shows and was sent to the OUWB community on May 30.

“The sign-up was filled in less than 30 minutes,” says Trixy Hall, coordinator, Graduate Programs and Community Outreach. “I was pleased to see that so many people responded so quickly.”

By providing so many volunteers, Hall says OUWB is expected to receive a total of about $20,000 — and all the money will be redirected back into the community.

The fact that volunteering at what could arguably be called the hottest ticket of the year and it’s for a good cause is the proverbial icing on the cake for Swift’s biggest fans at OUWB — aka Swifties.

“I think Taylor herself would be proud (of the money going back into the community) because every city that she’s going to she’s been donating significant amounts of money to food banks,” says Kellcey Lesmerises, a rising M3 at OUWB — and a self-proclaimed Swiftie, who plans to “glitter up” her hair and paint a heart on her face.

‘A significant amount’

OUWB has a partnership with Security, Athletic Facilities & Events (SAFE) Management, which provides guest services, event security, and crowd management at Ford Field.

Through the partnership, says Hall, SAFE will reach out to OUWB when volunteers are needed at events to help with tasks such as helping guests find their seats. Previously through the partnership, OUWB community members have volunteered at Detroit Lions games.

In exchange, OUWB receives a certain amount of money for the number of hours worked by each volunteer. Hall says any monies received through the program are redirected back into the community.

That means potential beneficiaries could be organizations such as Care House of Oakland County, the nonprofit that serves as the county’s only children’s advocacy center that aims to assist victims of child abuse.

It’s exactly the kind of service to community that’s a key part of OUWB’s mission, vision, and values.

“It’s not just (OUWB) being out at the concert,” she says. “It’s really trying to see how we can get that funding to come back to (OUWB) and what we can do to make an impact in the communities we serve.”

Lifetime memories

Lesmerises, who is volunteering on Friday and Saturday, is from New Hampshire and went to the Taylor Swift concert in late May when it was at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Lesmerises says she and her best friend were in “the very last row” of the stadium, and it rained the entire time — and they both loved every second of it. She also has seen Swift on two other tours.

More from OUWB

OUWB alumnus saves life of classmate’s father 2,000 miles from Rochester Hills

‘Suddenly, I couldn’t walk’: OUWB medical student shares story to raise awareness of rare disease

‘Life-changing’ scholarship: OUWB donor says ‘Money means more here than it does at Harvard’

“To be able to go and experience it (at Ford Field) in a really different way is very, very exciting,” she says.

Lesmerises says attending a Taylor Swift concert is like seeing the show with thousands of other fans who are equally dedicated to the musician. Most will know all the words to every song, whether it’s an obscure piece that’s rarely played live, or her latest number one hit.

“It’s a really great atmosphere,” she adds. “Many people have said they’ve experienced panic attacks at other concerts, but they just don’t feel that anxious (at Taylor Swift shows) …that’s says a lot.”

OUWB rising M2 medical student Brenda Bortis says she "can't think of any better way to spend my Saturday.”

“I decided to volunteer because it seems like an excellent opportunity to serve the community and help the concert run smoothly and safely for all the Michigan Swifties,” she says.

“I'm also a huge Taylor Swift fan, so I'm excited to experience the concert with my friends, classmates, and other members of the OUWB community,” says Bortis.

“I'm extremely grateful that OUWB provides such unique ways to serve our community,” she adds. “I'm sure that this experience will provide us with memories that will last a lifetime.”

Tickets sold out months ago, and as of Wednesday, the lowest priced available tickets (for standing room only) through resellers started at about $1,100.

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.