Volunteer center provides numerous ways to serve

Alayna Smith, volunteer center receptionist, is one of the many faces in the volunteer center to assist anyone who walks in. (Photo by Madeline Laviolette | gcmag.org)

From its humble beginnings as a satellite office of the United Way of Isabella County to seven years later, the volunteer center has grown to be an influential piece of Central Michigan University’s campus. The volunteer center first began in 1992, after Dr. Mary Ellen Brandell and Dr. Bruce Roscoe wrote a grant to secure funding for a volunteer center on campus. Today, the office is filled with employees who are dedicated to service and waiting to give others the opportunity to serve as well.

Information on the programs and activities the volunteer center provides is available right inside the door of its office. These programs include: Volunteers Are Central, Safer Sex Patrol, Public Service Residential Community, Michigan Service Scholars, Lunch Buddies, David Garcia Project, America Reads, America Counts, Alternative Breaks and Adopt-A-Grandparent.

The volunteer center is a resource for students to find their niche in service. It is free and open to any current student at CMU. If you are interested in volunteering or being a part of any programs feel free to visit the volunteer center website, add them on Orgsync or just walk in during business hours.

“I feel that the volunteer center over anyone else, is centered on student development. It prioritizes learning. We are really student centered,” Warren senior Thomas Trenkamp said.

Trenkamp is America’s Count Student Coordinator. His duty is to assign math tutors to help the children that lack mathematical understanding and help them be more successful in the field of mathematics.

The volunteer center afternoon staff taking a break from their day to pose for a picture. (Photo by Madeline Laviolette | gcmag.org)

Shawna Ross, who is the director of the volunteer center, was the first CMU volunteer center coordinator and helped Trenkamp start the program.

“We work with students at Pullen elementary School. We train the tutors and pair them up with the teachers, where the teachers then decide what students need to be helped,” Trenkamp said.

Another one of the programs that the volunteer center hosts is the David Garcia Project. The David Garcia project was started after 9/11. The project works specifically with student organizations on campus, visiting RSO and residence hall meetings to facilitate this program for students. Through this program, people get to see and feel first hand what it is like to have a certain disability.  Grant  junior Stephanie Pocsi is the Student Coordinator of the David Garcia Project.

The volunteer center’s projects and activities aren’t just held during school, but also during breaks. Bath senior Sarah Johnson, who is in charge of Alternative Breaks Board in the Volunteer Office, sends out different volunteer trips during winter, spring, and summer breaks. Alternative Breaks is a service trip program for CMU students that is usually low cost due to fundraising and scholarships. Since 1994, the program has provided individuals with the opportunity to experience  intense week-long and weekend service projects. The purpose of Alternative Breaks is to empower individuals to become lifelong active citizens who make their communities a priority in life decisions.

“I most enjoy working in the volunteer center, because it is a really positive atmosphere, and everyone is really supportive in everyone’s work. We get a lot done even though we are all socializing. It’s a very productive work environment,” Danielle Schmutz, MCC AmeriCorps*VISTA coordinator said.

Schmutz has a weekly meeting with the student coordinators to discuss what they have planned for their programs and plan trainings for all of their volunteers.

“I make sure everything ends up being effective and positive,” Schmutz said.

The volunteer center is known for its positive workers and bright environment. It has grown tremendously, with its new renovated office and a variety of programs and opportunities for students, faculty, staff and community partners. The volunteer center also has an active group of alumni who are working to participate in service projects and to generate contributions toward current volunteer center programming.