​History of the Volunteer Center


 The CMU 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. The Volunteer Center was originally a satellite office of the United Way of Isabella County Volunteer Center. The Volunteer Center was located in a small space off of the Student Organization Center and staffed by a student coordinator and two college work study students. Volunteer activities consisted primarily of small special volunteer events, including blood drives, holiday assistance, and a spring service event called "Be My Neighbor Day." Two years later, the small Volunteer Center grew to include the Alternative Breaks program. In 1994, the first CMU Alternative Spring Break service trip went to volunteer with the Red Bird Community Program in Beverly, Kentucky to work with the issue of rural poverty.

In 1998, Shawna Ross was hired, the first CMU Volunteer Center Coordinator, who worked to recognize the Volunteer Center on campus and expand potential services to students and community partners. The Volunteer Center was soon granted a Graduate Assistant to help with programming, including the federally-funded America Reads literacy tutoring program. In 2000, CMU moved to institutionalize the Volunteer Center and the Coordinator position on a full-time basis while maintaining the partnership with Isabella County United Way. A decision was also made to seek regional partnerships with United Ways or Volunteer Centers located in Clare, Ionia, Bay City, Midland, Saginaw, and Detroit.


By 2002, the Volunteer Center had a website and a new volunteer database called Volunteer CENTRAL, which contained vast amounts of volunteer opportunities that students could sign up for on-line. Programming also continued to expand at a rapid pace with Alternative Breaks showing tremendous growth with year-round programming with ​the addition of Winter Break, Summer Break and more weekends. The Safer Sex Patrol (prevention of STI educational program) and the David Garcia Project (disabilities awareness education) were also added to regular programming. In 2004, the Volunteer Center successfully wrote a grant to obtain our first Michigan Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA, whose purpose was to work full-time with mentoring programs such as America Reads, and the newly formed Lunch Buddies and Adopt-A-Grandparent.

Several years later, the Volunteer Center had grown tremendously with a variety of programs and many opportunities for studentsfaculty and staff, and community partners. The Volunteer Center also had an active group of alumni who wanted to continue their affiliation with us and also a desire to participate in service projects and to generate contributions toward current Volunteer Center programming. The CMU Volunteer Center Alumni Affinity group was created by a core group of alums who continue to be involved in a multitude of ways with the Volunteer Center and community partners.

The Volunteer Center now houses a searchable online database of volunteer opportunities for CMU students called OrgSync which coordinates civic engagement efforts across campus, and administers many programs, including America Reads, Lunch Buddies, Alternative Breaks, the Safer Sex Patrol, the David Garcia Project, Service Ambassadors and Adopt-a-Grandparent. Additionally, the Volunteer Center provides leadership for service and advocacy events throughout the academic year, including: Nicholas Pietrunti Day of Service, Issue Day, MLK Day of Service, Valentines for Veterans, Be My Neighbor Day, and various other events.

The Volunteer Center has been recognized by the President's Higher Education Service Honor Roll every year since its inception in 2006, including special recognition for assisting in Hurricane Katrina Compassion efforts.

If you are interested in obtaining more information about the Volunteer Center or would like to have a Volunteer Center spokesperson visit your organization through our Speaker's Bureau, please stop by our office or contact us at volunteer.center@cmich.edu or 989-774-7685.