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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center
The Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center has been connecting students with volunteering opportunities since 1992. We provide co-curricular service opportunities to all students and are conveniently located in CMU's Bovee University Center, Room 106. These opportunities include one of the nation's top alternative Breaks programs, the federally funded America Counts and Reads program, Volunteer Center Events, and much more.
In addition, the Volunteer Center connects students with dozens of volunteer opportunities in the Mid-Michigan area, which are listed on Engage Central. Our community partners include dozens of non-profit and educational community organizations, campus offices, and registered student organizations (RSO's).
To learn more about the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center's programs, please visit our Programs page.
How can my student volunteer?
For a step-by-step guide on volunteering, please visit the student section of this website. One of the best places to start is our Programs page, which addresses a variety of interests, are tailored for student schedules, and are intentionally designed to complement learning occurring in the classroom. We also partner with dozens of community organizations, which students can explore on Engage Central.
With so many opportunities to volunteer, it can be difficult to get started. If that is the case, we would love to chat with you. Visit us in 106 Bovee University Center, call us at (989) 774-7685, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. No appointment is necessary and we are open year-round from 9 am to 5 pm. It will help if students come prepared with a general idea about what they might be interested in doing or what they are able to fit into their schedule.
What is Engage Central?
Engage Central is a communication tool that all 300+ registered student organizations, fraternities and sororities, many university offices, and the Volunteer Center utilize to connect with students. We post all of our volunteer events and opportunities on the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Engage Central page.
Why should my student volunteer?
Engaging in service is a critical way for students to gain experience and skills that contribute to personal growth and career attainment. Employers working with CMU have cited volunteerism as something they look for on resumes and are more likely to hire students with diverse co-curricular experiences. Participating in co-curricular opportunities provides students with experiences to discuss during interviews, demonstrating how they have applied material learned in the classroom. For more information about career preparation at CMU, please visit our friends in the Career Development Center.
Volunteering is also a great way for students to become familiar with the Mt. Pleasant community and many students are able to meet new friends and discover new passions. All of our official programs are group-based and help students create lasting campus connections.
Does my student have to sign a release form to volunteer?
Before volunteering, it is required that all students read and sign a release of liability form. As such, volunteers must be over 18 or have a parent/guardian signature on a paper version of the form (stop by UC 106). This is a mandatory step when students first log onto Engage Central. It is important that students, faculty, and staff are aware that, while volunteering provides critical learning and transformative experiences, it is not completely free from risk. The nature of working with partners outside of CMU means we are unable to account for everything a student might encounter. However, the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center staff devotes much of its time to working with our partners to develop safe environments. Additionally, we train students in our programs on how to navigate these environments and make the best choices, regardless of the scenario.
What if my student is not a registered CMU student?
For non-CMU students, we recommend contacting community organizations in your area and asking them to help you find a volunteer opportunity that suits your student's talents, needs, and availability.
They can also search our Engage Central page for volunteer opportunities occurring in the Mid-Michigan area (although some features may be disabled without signing in). Although campus-based programs are limited to registered students, many of the non-profit postings are open to community members as well. If you have any questions, please contact us at 989-774-7685 or email us at email@example.com.
My student will not have a car on campus, will that hinder them from being able to volunteer?
Simple answer: No! We understand that many students do not have access to a car while living on campus and that they may feel limited to the kind of service they can do in the community. However, CMU has a variety of service experiences that either can be found on campus, has transportation provided, or are within a short walking distance. Many participants also are able to carpool, particularly for our weekly programs. If transportation does become a problem for accessing a specific type of service, please have your student contact us.