Most of the community service I completed throughout the year was done through Greek Life. I was a philanthropy week representative for a fraternity, keeping them up-to-date with my chapter’s week-long event activities benefiting Special Olympics, Girls on the Run, the S. June Smith Center and the ASA Foundation. I created a Facebook page and posted for the brothers to see every day. I also went to one of their meetings to go in-depth about the week and scoring.
I volunteered at two mac and cheese dinners for my sorority, and rolled coins as well from coin wars that week. I also made dog and cat toys at a Panhel service event. I helped sell baked goods as well to raise money for Parents United to Stop Hazing (PUSH) and the Isabella Country Restoration Center.
Because of the service I have provided, others are going to have more opportunities available to them because of the increased amounts of funds.
Even though I am about to graduate, I want to continue to give back in the next community I live in. I want to stay in touch with current sisters who will be in the chapter next year and donate money when Greek Week rolls around again since I should have a job and be able to financially contribute.
Last year, I was a member of the Adopt-A-Grandparent program at CMU. Not only did I visit my adopted grandma, but I also went with other students to different assisted living homes and mingled with the residents at the events as well as pass out crafts and assist in clean up.
This helped connect the community of Mount Pleasant, Michigan, with students on campus.
If it wasn’t for the student group coming to the facilities, there wouldn’t be as strong of a connection between the two groups.
This experience has taught me the importance of community, whether I have grown up in the town or not. A sense of community should be sharing a place on this planet together, not just a town we live in.
Staff in the Leadership Institute organizes different teams for Leader Advancement Scholarship recipients to be on. This year, I had the joy of being on the Polar Plunge lead team. Lead teams have helped me over the past three years get to know members in different cohorts, work as a team and help in the community.
On the Polar Plunge team, my duties were to help fundraise, spread the word about joining the Leadership Institute’s team, get other organizations to create their own teams and help set up for the event. I reached out to my sales fraternity to learn they were already in the works of creating a Polar Plunge team.
The day of the event, I moved tables and chairs around and set up the changing curtains. I did this all in the morning before the event started.
With the help of our team, we helped Special Olympics raise money to send athletes to the games. We helped recruit others to participate in this wonderful event and spread the word about Special Olympics. We also helped assist in set-up for free, saving them money to put towards the athletes instead of hiring help.
This was the first year for this lead team, and as it continues to be a team I know it will grow stronger. We played around with what we were able to do to help the Polar Plunge event, so there is definitely room to grow. The suggestions I would give to future members to build what our team started are to pass out fliers teaching others how to build a team and speak about the event in classes.
I love Polar Plunge and want to look in to the opportunity of being on the student committee for next year’s event.
In the fall of 2017, I went through formal sorority recruitment. After a week of visiting every chapter on campus, I found my home with Alpha Sigma Alpha. I knew they were the group for me when I realized how much our values aligned. I spoke to them about balance, integrity, service and faith. Everyone in the tent was sweet and genuine. I was excited when I opened my bid letter and saw the ASA crest.
Just after joining, I ran for a position that had opened up. My new sisters supported me as I ran for public relations chair. With their trust, I was elected. Since then, they have encouraged me and helped me thrive in the position.
Being in the chapter has allowed me to maintain being a strong student, Christian and member of the community. My sisters study with me, go to church with me and volunteer with me. There was one weekend where we all got up early to drive to Midland and volunteer at the Girls on the Run 5k (GOTR is one of our philanthropies).
Every semester, ASA hosts a mac and cheese philanthropy dinner and I had so much fun volunteering at that. Every sister is so passionate about our philanthropies and it’s wonderful when we come together and raise money for the S. June Smith Center, Special Olympics, Girls on the Run and the ASA Foundation. I look forward to the possibility of having our first philanthropy week next year.
Along with volunteering, ASA also gave me a mentor. We knew we’d be the perfect big/little pair as soon as we both learned our love for dogs, working out and Jesus. She has the same interests and passions as me and has been there through the stress of junior year. She was someone I turned to a lot and was always there with support. She wasn’t the only incredible person ASA blessed me with, I also got a new best friend.
I was supposed to go to a Christian conference in Indiana with some members of my chapter but the roads were horrible and covered with ice. I decided to stay home, as did my sister Makenzie. We decided to hangout since our plans for the weekend drastically changed. We went to the hot tub with our boyfriends, made dinner and played a card game together. We had so much fun that we have continued to hangout since then.
Makenzie has made a huge impact on my life this year from being a positive light. People say you become like those you hangout with and I’m so happy I have such a selfless and caring person in my life. She spends time volunteering every week, always offers support to sisters and saved a dog’s life by fostering him. She exemplifies what it is like to be a women of poise and purpose.
This chapter has given me strong bonds of friendship and laughs. It’s also given me the opportunity to step up and be a leader, even as a new member. I’ve learned how important it is to befriend people with similar values and passions. I’m happy to have gotten to work with new philanthropies I’ve never worked with, such as the S. June Smith Center.
For next year, I want to improve the bonds of sisterhood. I would like to grow closer to more sisters before I go alum. I am not sure if I am running for a position yet, but either way I will uphold the chapter’s values, serve as a role model and be involved. I will continue my current position until winter semester and keep striving to better Greek relations from what I have already learned. I am also planning on taking a little in the fall to mentor her. I will be there for her like my big has been for me. It’s important to be there for new members as they are getting acclimated because being in a sorority takes time-management skills. It can be hard making new friends and getting to know 80+ members. I am excited to help someone adjust not only to the college life, but the Greek life as well.
For winter break, I decided to give up a week to volunteer my time in Asheville, North Carolina. Eleven students and I packed our belongings Saturday night after finals and started helping on Monday. My group partnered with a YMCA in Asheville where we assisted them for the week. Tasks included: power washing buses, cooking rice, talking about healthy eating and exercising in schools, landscaping, sorting fruits and vegetables, and working mobile food markets.
The first day, we power washed three buses. Power washing was helpful to the YMCA because they were going to sell the buses and put the money towards programs for kids. We also had to push one of the buses out of the grass and into the parking lot. This helped the YMCA because without us, they would have had to pay over $150 for someone to tow it. That would have taken money away from programs.
Next, I headed to the kitchen.
I helped cook whole grain rice for students at a school so they could see healthy food can taste good. At the school, we handed out worksheets about the importance of colorful plates. With the lesson, students would be better informed on fruits and vegetables. At a different school, we facilitated a game of Simon Says. We incorporated different exercises to get students up and moving. Not only did it get students to exercise, but it also taught them different exercises they might not have known.
As much as I preferred to be inside where it was warm, I also had to put on work gloves and pull some weeds.
Landscaping helped the YMCA because they needed weeds cleared out for kids to be able to play. We did not clear out every single weed, but every bit helped. Somewhere down the line, some sort of structure will most likely be put in the area. In the past, students that went on the same Alternative Break installed a disc golf course and gaga ball pit.
Everything I did on the break was fun, but my favorite part was the direct service handing out food.
Many grocery stores in the Asheville area donate the fruits and vegetables that are not “shelf-quality” to the YMCA. The YMCA then sorts through all of the fruits and vegetables, throwing away the moldy and squishy produce. They keep what is edible, sort them in crates, load the truck and distribute the food in the community for free. When distributing the food, there is no questions asked about income.
Our role as a group was important because we provided extra hands. We allowed the process to run more efficiently by reducing the time it takes to sort and load the food. Because we reduced the time, we were able to load more food in the trucks before it was time to go. The workers at the YMCA said we broke their record for the most mouths fed. Not only is this important in itself, but we also did all the work right before the holiday season. The families we supplied food to would not go hungry on the holidays.
One thing I’ve taken away from this experience is to not waste food. Just because something doesn’t look picture perfect doesn’t mean it’s not edible. There are plenty of people in the world who would love to eat the food people throw away because it has a brown spot or is a little squishy.
Another thing I learned is tasks may seem little and easy to me, but they could really help someone else. Moving the bus from the grass to the parking lot took very little time and effort for the group. However, without us, there would have only been two staff members for the task. They could not have done it alone. This would have resulted in having to hire someone. I will keep this lesson in mind and remember that little things to me could make a huge impact on someone else.
In the spring semester of my sophomore year, I decided to join Pi Sigma Epsilon, the marketing and professional sales fraternity at Central Michigan University. I was initiated at the end of February and I have already experienced many of the benefits PSE has to offer. I have attended a professional sales networking night with business professionals, fundraised with my new member class to fund future sales competitions, attended weekly meetings to listen to numerous employer spotlights, learned how to dine with professionals at an etiquette dinner, cleaned up garbage on the side of Deerfield Road for Adopt-A-Road, volunteered at PSE’s annual Dart Tournament, attend my chapter’s formal, and network with my peers.
Even though I have not been a full-fledged member for a whole semester yet, I have had so many wonderful professional and fun experiences. The fraternity is valuable because I am further developing myself and stepping out of my comfort zone. For example, at meetings random members will be called on to stand in front of about 100 other members and give a sales pitch on a random object they are assigned. One time I was called up and had to try and sell Cabbage Patch Kid dolls to college students. It was difficult to come up with points off the top of my head, but it was a great way to push myself out of my comfort zone and do something I do not get the chance to every day.
I know I am ready to step up and take a leadership role in PSE; that is why I recently applied to become the Director of Public Relations. Next year, I plan on running for Vice President of Public Relations for the Zeta Nu chapter. I am passionate about sales and want to put as much effort and time into my fraternity as I can to get the most out from it. PSE really is helping me grow into a successful business professional.
Three semesters ago, I started visiting Maplewood Assisted Living Home once a week to see my adopted-grandmother. I got involved with the program when my biological grandmother went to an assisted living home for a short period of time due to a hip injury. I went home to visit her and realized how bored she was. Even with all of my family going to see her, I still wished she had more people to visit her. After returning to campus, I heard about the Adopt-A-Grandparent program and immediately wanted to join. After being accepted into the program, I was paired with an amazing adopted-grandmother!
I have been visiting my adopted-grandmother for three semesters now. We always talk, do puzzles, and a month before Christmas break, she started to teach me how to knit. Let me tell you, it is way more difficult than it looks. Right now I’m making a dish rag that was originally going to be a part of my mother’s Christmas present, but now I’m aiming to have it done by Mother’s Day (you will receive it eventually, mom. I love you). I have messed up so many times and my adopted-grandmother has had to take a few rows out and fix my mistakes. But hey, as humans we learn through our mistakes, so each time I have to redo a row I know I’m getting that much closer to getting the hang of it. It is always fun to go and sit with my grandparent and knit. We also really enjoy doing the puzzles together. They are super relaxing and a good way to exercise the brain. I even did one over the summer at my house because I learned I enjoy doing them so much.
Over the past three semesters, I have really grown close with my grandparent. She is definitely a mentor in my life and I have learned so much from her. I have gone to her for advice, laughs, and support. She is such a caring individual and I really do see her as family. I have spent over 30 hours visiting my adopted-grandmother this school year, but I really do not think 30 is enough. Next year, it is my goal to shoot for 40 hours. It is hard finding time being a college student, but it is so rewarding and fun to go visit my grandparent. Plus, I will have a car on campus next year and can use the time I would normally spend walking as extra time visiting. I love visiting her and I plan on being a part of the Adopt-A-Grandparent program until I graduate. I also highly encourage everyone to get involved and apply to become a co-mentor for the program because it truly is a wonderful experience that I have grown so much from. To my adopted-grandmother, if you are reading this, thank you for being the best adopted-grandparent I could ask for!
All Leader Advancement Scholars are required to participate in a LEAD team every year. Last year my LEAD team was special events; this year it was Relay for Life. Relay for Life did not take place until March, so my team only had one meeting during first semester. As second semester rolled around, we still had not met again. I kept asking my friends on the team when we were meeting and no one had a clue. Finally, about a month before the event, I received an email from a young woman who works with the Leadership Institute. She told me that my original LEAD team captain stepped down and the position needed to be filled; a few scholars had been nominated by the Leadership Institute staff and I was one of them. Two other scholars and I took on the role as co-chairs for the Leadership Institute’s Relay for Life team.
Part of our duty was to fundraise prior to the event. The only money that had been raised was $10. We had a team goal of $1,000 and we had about a month to do it. We called a last minute meeting with the team and decided to have a table in the Bovee University Center later that week. We were going to hand out suckers for a dollar and ask people to join our Relay for Life team. The table was not a success. We were stumped and had to come up with a new plan. With time running out, we could not organize any large events. My co-chairs and I sent out many emails to keep our team updated and gave everyone individual fundraising goals.
When the event rolled around, we had people pie our team in the face for $2. If they did that, they also received free cookies. We were also selling extra Leadership Institute clothing from previous years. At the end of the night, our team had raised $1,713.01! We were all super excited that we exceeded our goal by $713.01 and were the 7th highest fundraising team at the event.
I really learned from this experience that leaders can come together in a short amount of time and still be effective. My co-chairs and team members were superstars and I am so proud of everyone who made the event a success.
My story does not just stop there. Through it all, the janitor came up to me and asked if we could pie him in the face in front of everyone. He offered to buy us real pies during his break instead of the whipped cream pies we were using. He told me it has been a dream of his since he was a little kid to receive a pie in the face while wearing nice clothes in front of a crowd to make them laugh. I told him we would make it happen and he came back after he was done with his shift. He walked up to our table, dressed up, carrying six pies. I began to tell the people on the track that they should watch as we pied the man. A few of the walkers even jumped in and grabbed a pie, including a cancer survivor that he asked to come pie him earlier in the day. After we finished, the man was so happy. He gave me a hug and told me I made one his dreams come true. I was filled with happiness that I not only helped raise money for cancer, but also helped a man fulfil one of his childhood dreams.
Normally when I visit Detroit I go to see a concert or to cheer on the Tigers. I have never ventured to Detroit to volunteer, but on April 1st, 2016 I traveled there with my Leader Advancement Scholar cohort to volunteer at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy
and CASS Community Social Services. With the Jalen Rose students, we all split up into groups and rotated to different service projects. My group started off making cards for veterans, then moved to another room to de-fuzz material for a nonprofit in Detroit called Arts & Scraps. After that, my group made door signs for the Special Olympics Summer Games, which are going to be held at Central Michigan University this summer. The signs were made for individual people to greet them as they come to stay in the dorms. The last rotation was very heart touching as we saw a presentation on OK2SAY, which is a program where students and other people can submit anonymous tips when they feel unsafe. After eating at PizzaPapalis, we went to see beautiful art at the Detroit Institute of Arts. At the end of the night, we stayed and did a debrief of the day at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center. In the morning when we all woke up, we set off to work at CASS Community Social Services. Some people went to shred paper, some went to work in the soup kitchen, and others went to make mud mats. I started off at the soup kitchen sweeping all of the floors, but when I was done I was sent over to mud mat making with a few other people. Mud mat making was a little bit different from what most people would expect. The mats are made from illegally dumped tires in Detroit. Homeless men are employed to make them, and the money goes back to CASS to help with other programs. After working with CASS, my cohort had completed our service trip and returned to Mount Pleasant.
I loved going to Detroit and volunteering because the service we did was different from what I was used to. The most impactful part of the trip for me was when I went to the soup kitchen and talked with some of the people who were homeless. They were so grateful for us being there to help, but they did not look at us any differently than they did their friends. When one of my friends was mopping, she told a man to be careful because it was slippery and he smiled really big and acted like he was sliding on the floor. He was joking around with us and I thought that was really cool because even though we were there to do service work, the people we were helping treated us like friends. Before we left, one man came up to our group and told us that if we ever have any trouble to let him know and he will always be there for us. After he said that, it really showed me that we were there for him and made a difference in his life. Volunteering should not be done for the sake of a picture to post on Instagram, but it should be done to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Sometimes service done does not even get credited, but it still betters the lives of others. When we all went to the Detroit Institute of Arts, there were so many statues that were made by unknown sculptors. Even though these amazing sculptors did not get credit for their work, they still created something beautiful. Service does not always have to be recognized. It is perfectly fine to let your stamp on the world be unknown, as long as it helped someone else have a better life.
Another part of the trip that I really enjoyed was partnering with the students at Jalen Rose to show them that service is fun. We showed them different types of service projects that they can do on their own time without us and they really enjoyed that. Because they partook in service projects they could do without us, I feel like they will be more likely to do them again. You could really tell that they enjoyed their day, and I really enjoyed my day too. The kids were so excited at the end of the day when they heard how many lives we had all touched through our 4 hours of service. Service really is an amazing thing and I truly believe everyone should try to reach out and donate an hour of their time to any cause at least once a week. It does not have to take much time to volunteer and it is such a rewarding feeling to know you have made a positive impact on someone else’s life.
I have been going to Detroit for Tigers games since I have been in 4th grade. The experience has always been amazing for me by seeing the big buildings, walking in crowds of people who are just as excited as I am, watching baseball, and spending time with my family. I had always been aware of the homelessness in Detroit from seeing people on the streets before and after the games, but it never felt real to me until I was leaving the Quick Lane Bowl Game this winter. As I was trying to exit the city in my dad’s car, I saw people huddling on the sidewalk for warmth under tarps when it was pouring down rain. I realized that not everyone is fortunate enough to lie down in their own bed at night in a warm home. We should all be thankful for what we have.
The service trip that I am going on to Detroit relates to the purpose and vision of the Leadership Institute because I am going to learn hands-on how to make a difference in student’s lives at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy by taking on a leadership role and facilitating volunteer work for them. I will also provide service through Cass Community Social Services and actively help the community of Detroit by improving the quality of life and the state of economy there by doing whatever is asked of me with eagerness and willingness.
I think the service trip will help me grow as an individual by taking me to places in Detroit where I have never been before. There, I will see things I typically do not see on a day-to-day basis. I grew up in a small town with a small community and I am not used to seeing what life is like living in urban areas. I will be able to extend a helping hand to those who need a little boost, and I will get to see the impact I make on the lives of the students at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. I will not be serving alone, but I will be helping with 50 other servant leaders; I already know that seeing others helping and caring will make the trip that much more meaningful to me.