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Community service at CMU

Spotlight on service at CMU

2018 has been a year full of community connections

Contact: ​Jeff Johnston


Just as an act of kindness can brighten a person’s day, an organized service project or program can brighten a community’s future.

Central Michigan University students, faculty, staff and partners do their part, as stories from the past year can attest:

Strong ties to Special Olympics

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2018 marked Special Olympics Michigan’s 50th anniversary, and CMU’s partnership with Special Olympics has spanned almost as long. Every year, CMU students, faculty, staff and alumni volunteer at the State Summer Games, serving nearly 3,000 athletes from around Michigan.

“Our volunteers come back year after year because they care about the athletes and know they are a huge part of making the experience positive,” said Summer Games Director Steve Thompson.

“They never sit back and think, ‘We've done enough, this is as good as it gets.’ They are focused on constant improvement.”

Hopes on a hibiscus

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Many people wish on shooting stars, but ARThrive — a small group of faculty, staff and local residents — asked students and community members to wish on hibiscus trees.

The Wish Tree project exhibited in Park Library aims to bring the community together through reflection and shared wishes. It’s inspired by a similar project by artist Yoko Ono.

“It’s a reminder of the goodness of people,” said Annette Thornton, communication and dramatic arts faculty member. “It’s a reminder of the power of words, the power of expression, the power of community.”

Sustenance without stigma

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“If you need assistance, we’re here to help you.”

That’s how graduate student Kourtney Koch summarizes the mission of the new CMU Student Food Pantry.
The pantry, run by CMU’s Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center, provides food to students in need, allowing them to focus on academics rather than worry about hunger.

Redecoration for a cause

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Honors Program students in a course called Academic Service-Learning for the Greater Good spent a semester researching interior design theory and designing a welcoming environment at the Isabella County Restoration House shelter.

The redecoration project involved consulting with directors of other shelters, presenting students’ ideas and collaborating with shelter Executive Director Ryan Griffus.

“We had this wonderful new space and weren't sure how to use it most effectively,” Griffus said. “The students came in exploding with possibilities and a willingness to try new things.”

Service in the streets

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Students in the College of Medicine and The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions are street smart.

That is, they took their knowledge to the streets this year, providing medical services to the homeless and underserved as part of the new student group CMU Street Medicine.

"My heart grew bigger and bigger for the populations in need and how much nursing and medicine can really do with volunteers,” said Bethany Brown, assistant director of Central Michigan University’s new nursing program and CMU Street Medicine director.

Kindness agents on the loose

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Secret Kindness Agents are carrying out a goodwill mission on campus.

Eyewitnesses say suspected student-agents are picking up trash, paying for strangers' meals and leaving thank-you notes for campus custodians.

A source close to the anonymous agents said students want their small acts of kindness to help make CMU feel welcoming.


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