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 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 the Red Bird Community Program in Beverly, Kentucky to work with the issue of rural poverty.

In 1998, Shawna Ross, the first CMU Volunteer Center Coordinator, worked to recognize the Volunteer Center on campus and expanding potential services to students. The Volunteer Center was soon granted one Graduate Assistant to help with programming, including the America Reads literacy-focused tutoring program. In 2000, CMU moved to establish the Volunteer Center Coordinator position as full-time on a provisional basis and maintain 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 an online database called Volunteer CENTRAL, which contained vast amounts of volunteer opportunities that students could sign up for. Programming also continued to expand at a rapid pace with Alternative Breaks showing tremendous growth as a year-round programming with the addition of Winter Break, Summer Break and more weekends. The Safer Sex Patrol and the David Garcia Project were also added to regular programming. In 2004, the Volunteer Center successfully wrote a grant to obtain a 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.

Seven years later, the Volunteer Center has grown tremendously with a variety of programs and many opportunities for studentsfaculty and 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.


The Volunteer Center houses a searchable online database of volunteer opportunities for CMU students (OrgSync) 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, and Adopt-a-Grandparent. Additionally, the Volunteer Center provides leadership for special events throughout the academic year, including: Nicholas Pietrunti Day of Service, Issue Day, 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.