Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Good as Gold Ceremony honors student and community volunteers



In honor of National Volunteer Week (April 18-24), the University of Illinois Springfield and the Junior League of Springfield hosted the Springfield Good as Gold Ceremony, a recognition event to acknowledge community members and organizations for their volunteer efforts.

The ceremony took place on Tuesday evening, April 20, in the lobby of the Sangamon Auditorium on the UIS campus. More than 40 people were recognized during the event for their achievements and efforts.

UIS honored one staff member and one student who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to service and volunteerism with the UIS Star Staff and UIS Star Student award. Alicia Wiley, a graduate student who helped organize a winter shoe/sock drive to benefit the children she met through Contact Ministries was the recipient of the UIS Star Student Award. Kara McElwrath, training specialist in Information Technology Services, received the UIS Star Staff Award for going “above and beyond” to help her students in her Technology for Teaching (TEP 305) course.

UIS students were also recognized for their involvement in many volunteer projects over the past year, including involvement in an Americorps program where students volunteered in the Springfield Public Schools AVID tutoring program and helped out at other agencies, such as the Animal Protective League. Students are also involved in mentoring programs at Jefferson Middle School and Harvard Park Elementary School. The students were honored with Outstanding Community Service Awards.

The Junior League recognized Linda Galecki with its new Golden Literacy Award, which is part of the group’s commitment to addressing literacy in the Springfield. Galecki worked to keep the library at Sandberg Elementary open when it lost its funding. For the past 8 years Galecki has organized and trained volunteers, re-shelved books, and made the library an inviting and educational place for the children at the school.

Jordan Bartolazzi, was awarded the Youth Volunteer Award for volunteering over 200 hours for such causes as the Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery, mentoring and tutoring middle and high school students, collecting food for pantries, and collecting coats for the homeless. Bartolazzi also single-handedly organized a basketball tournament for Haiti aid relief which collected over $2,500.

Nancy Zimmers, Merle Shiffman
and Cheryl Meyer from the SIU School of Medicine Enos Steering Committee were presented with the Organization Agent of Service Award. It’s given to an organization for its overall commitment, service and dedication to improving the Springfield community.

Each year the Junior League awards one of its members the Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award (fondly known as the ABCD Award). Julie Waldrop, was honored with the ABCD Award for serving on 6 committees this year, impacting the community through each of her placements.

Five nominees for the Distinguished Volunteer Award were acknowledged during the event with a short presentation. The nominees included Daniel Cadigan, Helen Davsko, Les Eastep, Ann Pitsenberg and Rachael Thomson.

The winner of the Distinguished Volunteer Award was Les Eastep, for his work with SPARC. As a board member since 1991 he’s brought his experience and passion for others to the lives of thousands of people, creating events and serving on boards and committees where he is a problem solver and creative thinker. He held an annual chili supper fundraiser for SPARC, which resulted in a 52% increase in net income from the previous year.

Thirty-four local volunteers were also honored with the Heart of Gold Award. Recipients included: Carolyn Bodewes, Paul Cary, Shi Lynn Coleman, Reba Crawford, Theresa Davis, Doris Decker, Patricia Fowler, Mark Frakes, Gene Gyure, Kathleen Handy, Anita Hayes, William Kempiners, Raegan Koebler, Jennifer Pinkerton-Krueger, Eric Mayland, Marcia Milliken, Sister Trudy O’Connor, Kudus Ogunseye, Hyun Ah Oh, Christine Phillips, Kelly Ramsey, Helen Renfrow, Diamond Ross, Barbara Rowe, Barbara Salim, Farah Salim, Linda Udey, Ralph Woehrmann. The committee members of Springfield Parents for Students with Disabilities: Lisa Brunson, Mike Nellessen, Dr. Holly Novak, Katie Pavelko, Margarite Simon, and Mary Wyman were also honored with the Heart of Gold Award.

The ceremony was co-sponsored by Illinois Campus Compact. For more information about the event, please visit www.uis.edu/volunteer, email volunteer@uis.edu or call (217) 206-7716.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

UIS students return home from Alternative Spring Break



A record number of University of Illinois Springfield students, who participated in Alternative Spring Break returned home on Saturday, March 20 knowing they made a difference.

The 45 students and 3 advisers spent a week in Galveston, Texas helping to clean up damage from Hurricane Ike, which struck in 2008.

“Just having the opportunity to be down there was amazing,” said Jaleesa Earthely, president of the UIS Alternative Spring Break student organization. “I just know we gave the community back hope and that’s what I was looking to go down there to do.”

The group stayed at a local elementary school in Galveston with other students from across the country, volunteering for 8 1/2 hours a day. The UIS students took on the project as part of the One Mission Initiative, a faith-based organization.

“Some of these houses that we went into hadn’t been touched for like a year or more. No one had been in there to redo siding or drywall and that’s basically what we were doing,” said senior volunteer Zach Berillo.

The UIS crew was split into three groups on the trip and worked on a total of three homes, along with other property. While working on land owned by the City of Galveston they got an unexpected visitor.

“The mayor pulled up and thanked us for our efforts and said the things that we were doing are long overdue,” said Kelly Thompson, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

The UIS Alternative Spring Break student organization was formed last year, when students took their first trip to Mandeville, Louisiana to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity following Hurricane Katrina.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Students to spend Alternative Spring Break helping with hurricane recovery

A record number of students from the University of Illinois Springfield will spend their spring break volunteering in Galveston, Texas helping with recovery efforts following Hurricane Ike.

The 45 students and 3 advisers will leave Springfield on Friday, March 12 and return to campus on Sunday, March 20. The group will stay at a local elementary school in Galveston with other students from across the country, volunteering for 8 1/2 hours a day.

The students will be primarily helping with rebuilding and refurbishing homes that were damaged by the storm. Volunteers will also be doing community outreach, visiting home-bound residents, helping to feed the homeless and assisting in other community-related activities.

“Lately there has been much focus on international disasters, but the devastation still felt in Galveston, TX due to Hurricane Ike in 2008 is a natural disaster our students felt compelled to help with after researching spring break volunteer opportunities. Whether it is in Texas or overseas, seeing our UIS students respond so enthusiastically to help others is a heart-warming experience,” said Kelly Thompson, director of UIS’ Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

The UIS students are taking on the project as part of the One Mission Initiative, a faith-based organization. The group’s mission is to “bring volunteers to Galveston to not only provide much needed help, labor, and support to the community here, but to also provide love, hope and encouragement”.

The UIS Alternative Spring Break student organization was formed last year, when students took their first trip to Mandeville, Louisiana to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity following Hurricane Katrina.

For more information on volunteer opportunities at UIS visit the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center’s website at www.uis.edu/volunteer or contact Kelly Thompson at 217/206-8448 or kthom03s@uis.edu.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

UIS receives national recognition for community service, named to President's Honor Roll

The University of Illinois Springfield has been named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.

The Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the annual Honor Roll award, recognized more than 700 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from poverty and homelessness to environmental justice.

“We are so pleased to be named for the second year in a row to the Presidential Honor Roll. Two of our top strategic goals at UIS are making a difference in the world and enriching individual lives. Our students, staff and faculty are committed to these goals, and it’s wonderful to see UIS be recognized for its efforts,” said Chancellor Richard D. Ringeisen.

According to the UIS Volunteer Center director, Kelly Thompson, UIS was named to the honor roll for recognition of its various volunteer programs throughout the past year. Specifically mentioned in the honor roll recognition were its many mentoring activities within Springfield School District 186, including programs through Big Brothers Big Sisters, as well as UIS’ recent collaboration with the Central Illinois Foodbank to complete a hunger study. For example, through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program at Harvard Park Elementary School, approximately 15 UIS students completed over 400 hours of community service.

“Congratulations to UIS and its students for their dedication to service and commitment to improving their local communities,” said Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “Our nation’s students are a critical part of the equation and vital to our efforts to tackle the most persistent challenges we face. They have achieved impactful results and demonstrated the value of putting knowledge into practice to help renew America through service.”

The Honor Roll includes six colleges and universities that are recognized as Presidential Awardees, with an additional 115 named to the Distinction List and 621 schools named as Honor Roll members. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors including the scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

College students make a significant contribution to the volunteer sector; in 2009, 3.16 million students performed more than 300 million hours of service, according to the Volunteering in America study released by the Corporation. Each year, the Corporation invests more than $150 million in fostering a culture of service on college campuses through grants awarded by its programs; the education awards that AmeriCorps members receive at the conclusion of their term of service to pay for college; and through support of training, research, recognition, and other initiatives to spur college service.

The Corporation oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education.

For more information contact Kelly Thompson, UIS Volunteer Center director at 217/206-8448 or volunteer@uis.edu.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

UIS graduate students collect holiday gifts for needy children



The holidays will be a little brighter for 53 elementary students at Feitshans Academy in Springfield this year thanks to a group of UIS graduate students.

The Graduate Public Service Internship -Student Association collected toys as part of its annual “Giving Tree” project. UIS students, faculty and staff selected ornaments from the “Giving Tree” that contained a child’s name and age. The donors then purchased gifts to donate to the children.

“I would say every kid ended up with 2 or 3 different gifts. We had over 100 presents. We had one special donor who provided stockings for each one of the kids and they were all age appropriate,” said Lynsey Graham, GPSI-SA president and MBA student.

The graduate students gathered together to wrap all the presents that were collected before delivering them to the students at Feitschans Academy. All of the elementary students were nominated for a gift based on their need by the school.

“Every year we’ve done this it’s gotten bigger and bigger, more and more successful and more people are participating, so it really gives me hope in the future it’s going to grow where we can help even more people,” said Laura Weems, GPSI-SA member and communications graduate student.

The graduate students say they had fun shopping for the presents and it brought back childhood memories of their own.

“It was great to go pick something out and really put thought into what I liked at that age,” said Weems.

For more information on the Graduate Public Service – Student Association visit: http://students.uis.edu/organizations/gpsisa/index.html

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

UIS Holiday Stars Project collects 3 tons of food for central Illinois



The University of Illinois Springfield collected a record 6,209 pounds of food for the Central Illinois Foodbank as part of the 2009 Holiday Stars Project. That’s an over 40 percent increase in donations from last year.

“It’s fun to be able to say we raised a ton more than last year because in this case we really mean it, literally. It’s heartwarming,” said Richard D. Ringeisen, UIS chancellor.

On December 3, 2009, student volunteers from UIS helped fill a truck from the Central Illinois Foodbank with donations.

“We’re hearing at the volunteer center every week from food pantries where the donations are down this year, so it’s wonderful donations are up here at UIS to help people in our area,” said Kelly Thompson, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

Students kicked off the month-long food drive through a “Trick or Eat” competition on Halloween night, which collected more than 4,000 pounds of food alone. The effort continued on-campus during November as students, faculty, and staff were encouraged to participate.

“It feels amazing. There are no words to describe it. It’s just giving back to the community,” said Esther Ellison, junior social work major.

The Holiday Stars Project was first started in 2008 as a way to benefit the Central Illinois Foodbank, which assists families in 21 counties.

“This food that’s being donated today really is so awesome because it’s a variety of food, and at the Foodbank variety is really nice to get in because our food is donated,” said Gloria Shanahan, communications director for the Central Illinois Foodbank.

UIS plans to continue its effort to give back to the community next year through the Holiday Stars Project.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Students help the Central Illinois Foodbank while giving thanks



The University of Illinois Springfield Housing Residents Council (HRC) hosted its annual “Fall Feast” on Thursday, November 19, 2009 in the Lincoln Residence Hall great room.

Students who live in on-campus housing were treated to a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings for only a dollar donation to the Central Illinois Foodbank. The students were also encouraged to donate canned food as part of the UIS Holiday Stars Project.

“I think it’s really good and helps the community,” said Erin Clinch, UIS freshman education major. “It’s nice for people who can’t afford a good Thanksgiving dinner and it makes you feel good to help people out."

HRC raised nearly $200 last year from the “Fall Feast” on top of the canned food they collected. Organizers expected almost 300 students to go through the buffet line this year.

“You really can’t beat the goodness of giving a can for a Thanksgiving dinner with your UIS family because a lot of the times it’s hard to get back to see everyone from school,” said Margaret Martinotti, UIS junior and HRC Vice Chair for Programming.

The pre-Thanksgiving meal also served the dual purpose of allowing students to connect with one another before they leave campus for holiday break.

“I know my friends at other colleges don’t get as many activities as I do here,” said Clinch. “It’s really nice to just walk down from your dorm room and there’s dinner.”

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

UIS Sustainability Week teaches environmental lessons



The University of Illinois Springfield is raising awareness about sustainability and the environment by hosting its Second Annual Sustainability Week from November 9 through November 14, 2009.

“It’s important for our campus to remember that we’re all connected and part of our environment, so take a few moments this week and be grateful for the air we breathe,” said Mae Marie Noll, undergraduate academic advisor and co-presenter of Sustainability Week.

Sustainability Week kicked off with a campus bike ride on Monday in an effort to teach participants about reducing their carbon footprint.

“I ride my bike to work as often as possible. It’s about 6 miles each way so 12 miles round trip,” said UIS staff member Rose Scheikhart.

The campus is also hosting a Battery Recycling Drive and is encouraging people to bring in dead batteries to be collected. The group has containers in the Public Affairs Center (PAC) and University Hall lobbies.

Read more about Sustainability Week events in a previous news release.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

UIS kicks off Holiday Stars Project with Trick-or-Eat for the Central Illinois Foodbank

The Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center at the University of Illinois Springfield will sponsor a Trick-or-Eat competition to collect the most canned goods on Halloween, Saturday, October 31. The Volunteer Center is collaborating with area hospitals and the SIU School of Medicine, who will also be participating in the Trick-or-Eat competition.

The event is part of the UIS Holiday Stars Project, a campus-wide service initiative giving focus to UIS’ efforts to make a difference in the local community during the upcoming holiday season. The overall goal is to collect 4,500 of pounds of food for the Central Illinois Foodbank by December 3, 2009.

“Our campus community has embraced our Holiday Stars Project and is excited about working together to make a difference in the local community during these times of economic difficulty,” said Kelly Thompson, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

Teams of UIS students who registered for the Trick-or-Eat drive have been assigned to neighborhoods where they will collect non-perishable food items. The teams have already canvassed the neighborhoods in advance, distributing collection bags, along with door hangers that explain the project.

On Halloween, the teams will revisit their neighborhoods between 4:30 and 8 p.m. to pick up donations. Collected items will be returned & weighed that evening at Central Illinois Foodbanks, and prizes will be awarded to teams that bring in the most pounds of food.

The Holiday Stars Project continues through November, when specially marked collection bins will be placed around the UIS campus. Everything collected during the project will be presented to the Foodbank on December 3, 2009.

The Central Illinois Foodbank serves 160 agencies throughout 21 central Illinois counties and also hosts the Kids Café, part of a nation-wide program through America’s Second Harvest that feeds children a hot, nutritious meal in a safe environment. More information is available at www.centralilfoodbank.org.

For more information about the UIS Holiday Stars Project, contact Kelly Thompson, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, at 217/206-8448, or go to www.uis.edu/volunteer/holidayproject/

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Friday, October 16, 2009

UIS students attend AmeriCorps opening ceremony



Students from the University of Illinois Springfield participated in the AmeriCorps open day ceremony at the Prairie Capital Convention Center on October 15, 2009.

“I think it’s great for everyone to come together and see the number of people we have in AmeriCorps in the state, just to see the impact it can have,” said Jordan Jeffers, UIS AmeriCorps VISTA.

Volunteers participated in games that helped them learn about each other and listened to speakers talk about service.

UIS has 16 students that have pledged to volunteer 300 hours a year, which amounts to 5 hours a week.

“I wanted to be part of AmeriCorps because I felt in high school that I wasn’t really involved in community service at all and this was a great opportunity on campus to do a lot of hours,” said UIS freshman John Tienken.

Students later marched to the capitol where they took an oath to serve as part of AmeriCorps.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Students volunteer during Homecoming activities



Students from the University of Illinois Springfield are giving back to the community during Homecoming 2009.

The Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center organized a service event for M.E.R.C.Y. Communities on Friday, October 2, 2009. The organization provides a supportive housing and service organization for abused, homeless, and at-risk single mothers and their children.

Students spent the afternoon cleaning, painting, and moving air conditioning units to prepare a housing center for new families.

“I volunteered today just to help out because I figure if no one volunteers to do it they’re going to have to get people either way to do it,” said UIS Freshman volunteer Rachelle DeBerry.

“Having the UIS students come out here is really a big help to us every year,” said M.E.R.C.Y. Communities Director of Marketing Brian Ganz.

For more information on volunteer opportunities call The Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center at 217/206-7716 or e-mail volunteer@uis.edu.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall into Volunteer Fair teams students with community



The University of Illinois Springfield invited nearly 25 non-profit groups to campus on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 in an effort to get students to volunteer.

It was all part of the first ever "Fall into Volunteer Fair" organized by the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, UIS Housing and the Experiential and Service-Learning Programs.

"I think volunteering is a great way for students to find something to do during their free time on the weekends that gives them some type of extra meaning in their lives," said UIS senior and event organizer Andy Shaffer.

Representatives from Lincoln Memorial Gardens, Illinois State Museum, Boys and Girls Club, Planned Parenthood and Memorial Medical Center attended the event.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

UIS Hosts Campus Blood Drive



University of Illinois Springfield students, faculty and staff members rolled up their sleeves to help save lives Monday. The Clinical Lab Science Club sponsored a blood drive and bone marrow typing event at Lincoln Residence Hall.

The drive was put on by the Central Illinois Community Blood Center, which is the main source for blood for 19 hospitals in central and southwestern Illinois.

This is the first time the blood center has teamed up to offer bone marrow typing, which puts donors on a match registry for people in need.

Almost 50 people donated blood during the drive at LRH.

Future UIS Blood Drives:

Monday, November 16 , 2009
Public Affairs Center (Sponsor: Graduate Professional Union)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Public Affairs Center (Sponsor: Student Government Association)

Monday, April 19, 2010
Lincoln Residence Hall (Sponsor: Clinical Lab Science Club)

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Friday, August 28, 2009

UIS students volunteer during Service-A-Thon



Students from the University of Illinois Springfield rolled up their sleeves to help out the community through volunteering. It was all part of the Service-A-Thon organized by the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center as part of Welcome Week 2009.

Volunteers spent time at Washington Park in Springfield clearing shrubs from a hiking trail in order to restore it to a more natural look. Students also went to the Midwest Mission Distribution Center to put together school kits to be shipped overseas. Other students put together cancer survivor packets at the American Cancer Society office in Springfield.

Students are encouraged to sign up in an effort to provide service to the community, meet new friends and learn skills.

For more information about volunteer service at UIS and future events visit www.uis.edu/volunteer/.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Good as Gold Ceremony recognizes volunteer efforts in community

In honor of National Volunteer Week (April 19-25), the University of Illinois at Springfield and the Junior League of Springfield hosted the Springfield Good as Gold Ceremony, a recognition event to acknowledge community members and organizations for their volunteer efforts.

The ceremony took place on Thursday evening, April 23, in the lobby of the Public Affairs Center on the UIS campus. More than 50 people were recognized during the event for their achievements and efforts.

UIS honored one staff member and one student who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to service and volunteerism with the UIS Star Staff and UIS Star Student awards. Craig Pelka, a senior at UIS, was the recipient of the UIS Star Student Award. Mary Caroline Mitchell, associate director of the UIS Alumni Office, received the UIS Star Staff Award.

UIS students were also recognized for their involvement in many volunteer projects over the past year, including involvement in the Americorps program and mentoring at Jefferson Middle School and Harvard Park Elementary School. The students were honored with Outstanding Community Service Awards.

The Junior League recognized Allie Beams, a local junior high school student, with their Outstanding Community Service Award.

Jack Flesner, a second-grader at Our Savior’s Lutheran, was the recipient of the Youth Volunteer Award.

The Graham Elementary School Lunch Bunch Mentoring Group was honored with the Organization Agent of Service Award. Members of the group include Daniel Cadigan, Darrell Clark, Andre Jordan, Leroy Jordan, Melvin Jordan, Jonathan Lackland and Edward Pinn.

Five nominees for the Distinguished Volunteer Award were acknowledged during the event with a short presentation. The nominees included Jennifer Allender, Richard Corkery, Kenneth Page, Shana Stine and John Woods.

The winner of the Distinguished Volunteer Award was John Woods, for his work with Camp Care-a-Lot, a summer camp for children ages six to 10.

Forty-four local volunteers were also honored with the Heart of Gold Award. Recipients included:
Randi Alexander, Thomas Armstead, Eloise Baird, Elizabeth Bishop, Floyd and Bobbi Blackard, Mervin Brennan, Jodie Brubaker, Lisa Brunson, Daniel Cadigan, Latosha Caldwell, Dennis and Sharon Chrans, Laura Coffey, Karen Finney, Samuel Finney, Lynn Handy, Jeanne Harris, Jeanne Harvill, Helen Healy, Gloria Henkle, Michael and Barbara Hickey, Michelle Higginbotham, Linda Hinds, Alia Hollenbeck, Tricia Hopkins-Price, Jennifer Isringhausen, Howard Kang, Mary Lawrick, Dannyl Madura, Coleton Meseke, Jill Meseke, Sister Josine Mondloch, Bailie Parfitt, Helen Peters, Joseph Richiusa, Amanda Roberts, Therese Romanelli, Diamond Ross, Steve Roth, Donna Schechter, Noel Scott, Chad Underwood, Debbie Waters, Patricia Wilken and Patricia Wright.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Volunteers recognized at Good as Gold Ceremony

By Courtney Westlake




UIS and the Junior League of Springfield hosted the Springfield Good as Gold Ceremony on Thursday evening, April 23, to acknowledge community members and organizations for their volunteer efforts.

More than 50 people were recognized during the ceremony for their achievements and efforts, including those receiving the Heart of Gold awards, Youth Volunteer Award(Jack Flesner) and Organization Agent of Service Award (Graham Elementary School Lunch Bunch Mentoring Group). The Junior League also honored a local junior high school girl, Allie Beams, for her leadership and volunteerism with their Outstanding Graduate Award.

Dave Daniels, 103.7 WDBR radio host, and Jessica English, WICS News Channel 20 anchor, served as emcees for the event.

"Our volunteers gave more than 17,200 hours in 2008," English acknowledged during the ceremony.

Five nominees for the Distinguished Volunteer Award were also recognized during the event with a short presentation. The Distinguished Volunteer award winner, John Woods, received a donation stipend to give to the charity of his choice.

UIS student Shana Stine was one of the five nominees for the Distinguished Volunteer Award. Stine founded the organization Jump for Joel, which raises money and awareness for orphans at the Gathiga Children's Hope Home in Kenya.

UIS recognized members of the UIS community at the ceremony with Golden Star Awards for one staff or faculty member and one student who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to service and volunteerism.

Also honored were numerous UIS students with the UIS Outstanding Community Service awards for their volunteers roles in projects like Jefferson Middle School mentoring and Harvard Park mentoring, and organizations like Americorps and the Leadership for Life service wing in Lincoln Residence Hall. UIS students Howard Kang and Diamond Ross were among those recognized from the community with Heart of Gold Awards.

Mary Caroline Mitchell, associate director of UIS Alumni Office, was the recipient of the UIS Star Staff Award.

Mitchell works to connect alumni with UIS Community. She developed and implemented a group called SAGE, which stands for Service, Activity, Group and Enrichment and is an alumni group for those 50 and older who participate in continuing education programs. SAGE members actively volunteer on campus and in community.

Mitchell also volunteers for UIS Welcome Week, the UIS Holiday Stars Project, UIS Homecoming, Commencement and Project Success.

"In the community, Mary Caroline is known for her participation in the Sangamon County Community Foundation's Women for Women group, Pioneer Days for the Strawbridge-Shepherd House, Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach and Westminster Presbyterian Church," Daniels said.

Craig Pelka was the recipient of the UIS Star Student Award. He initiated and coordinated the part-time job fair and graduate school fair at UIS, served as liaison to the student newspaper and more.

His volunteer activities include the Mercy Communities Home Restoration Project, Animal Protective league, camp counselor for Muscular Dystrophy Association summer camp, conversation partner for the UIS RSL Conversation Partner Program and member of Illinois State Fair College Advisory Board.

"Craig Pelka is an excellent example of extraordinary dedication," English noted. "He has empowered students to succeed and provided the tools and resources to do so. For the community, he has not only provided his time but also his expertise to help organizations' message to be heard."

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Students give time over Spring Break to assist hurricane victims in Louisiana

By Courtney Westlake





Students with UIS’ Alternative Spring Break and Habitat for Humanity student organizations spent their spring breaks not only soaking up the sun in the south but also assisting Hurricane Katrina victims.

Twenty-four students and two supervisors made the trip to Mandeville, Louisiana to build homes in the southeast Louisiana area.

“We wanted to give back to them since they have been the area of the state that was really affected,” said Jaleesa Earthely, treasurer of the Alternative Spring Break organization. “We wanted to help them get back on their feet.”

“And we wanted to go somewhere hot,” she laughed.

Mandeville is about 30 to 40 minutes outside of New Orleans, and the population has greatly increased since Katrina as New Orleans residents moved more north, said Zach Berillo, another student on the trip.

The UIS group teamed up with a group of students from Wisconsin to work in a section called Carterville, which is an area of Habitat houses.

“We worked on three houses; the framework was already down, and we got to build up the structure,” Berillo said. “And later on, we got to look at some other Habitat houses whose structures were already up, and they were putting up drywall.”

Last year, Berillo accompanied the UIS Habitat for Humanity organization to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and said he enjoyed working outside this year in the nicer weather.

“It felt good because this year we got to be outside building, and I felt like we got to accomplish more,” he said. “We could definitely see how far we came through the building.”

This was the first trip planned by Alternative Spring Break at UIS and the group hopes to continue volunteering over Spring Break in the years to come. The first year was a great experience, Earthely said.

“Hopefully we’ll do it next year and probably go somewhere different,” she said. “The people were very friendly in Louisiana. They knew what we were coming down for, and they said ‘thank you so much’ and were really appreciative.”

Berillo encouraged other individuals or groups to consider helping out in the area affected by Hurricane Katrina.

“It was several years ago, and people don’t think about it as much anymore, but they still need a lot of help down there with rebuilding the areas,” he said.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

UIS receives national honor for service-learning and civic engagement

The University of Illinois at Springfield has been placed on the 2008 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service efforts to the local community. The honor was announced Monday by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

“This high honor is evidence that UIS is succeeding in its efforts to make community service a priority,” said UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen. “We at UIS believe that our students gain a greater sense of responsibility when they serve the community as part of their education.”

Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. UIS was selected because of the scope and innovation of its service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and academic service-learning courses.

UIS student service projects include the Girl to Girl DreamSpeakers Program in which UIS female athletes serve as mentors to about 120 female students in grades 8 through 10 in the Springfield public schools. A mentoring program with Jefferson Middle School matches 20 UIS students with about 30 middle school students, and a service project that involves storm drain stenciling raises environmental awareness of what not to dump in storm drains.

“We don’t just pay lip service to community service, we strongly encourage service to others,” said Kelly Thompson, director of UIS’ Center for Volunteer and Civic Engagement. “Right here on campus we have a unique housing arrangement called the living-learning community in Lincoln Residence Hall. During 2008, those students who live on that wing served our local community through about 950 hours of service,” she said.

Thompson also noted that 2,400 hours of service were carried out in the community last year by UIS students involved in the Midwest Campus Compact Citizen-Scholar Fellows AmeriCorps Program. UIS is one of only seven universities in the state that participates in the AmeriCorps Education Award Program.

Other projects are the annual UIS Cares day during which students volunteer their time to bettering the community. Last year, students and several staff members spent time at Jefferson Middle School pulling weeds, planting flowers and taking part in other beautification efforts. UIS also sponsors the annual campus-wide Holiday Stars Project during which students, faculty, staff and community members donated several thousand pounds of canned goods to the Central Illinois Food Bank last year.

UIS also offers service-learning courses that combine academic learning and community service at the undergraduate level. Students earn college credit while providing community service to local non-profit agencies.

The Honor Roll is a program of the Corporation, in collaboration with the Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

UIS Holiday Stars Project makes difference in the local community

By Courtney Westlake



UIS community members from all areas of campus pitched in on Thursday afternoon, December 4, to load up a truck from the Central Illinois Foodbank with the more than 4,000 pounds of food collected during the 2008 Holiday Stars Project.

"When we created our strategic plan for the university, two of our three goals included making a difference in the world and enriching individual lives," said Chancellor Richard Ringeisen. "When we look at all of this food, we know that we're talking about more than enriching lives but truly making a difference in our local world."

The Holiday Stars Project, coordinated through the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, was kicked off with a Trick or Treat event on Halloween in which students went trick or treating for canned goods through local neighborhoods. The original goal for the project, 2008 pounds, was reached that night, so the Holiday Stars Project doubled the goal.

Students, faculty and staff of more than 30 UIS departments came together to reach the new goal, even down to the kids at the Cox Children's Center raising more than $300 through collecting change.

One hundred and sixty agencies will be using this food in central Illinois, said Gloria Shanahan, communications director of the Central Illinois Foodbank.

"The foodbank services 21 counties in Illinois, and they are going to be ecstatic," she said. "To come from the chancellor and trickle down to individual students is quite an example. Our message at the foodbank is that hunger is with us 365 days a year, so this is a wonderful time to give. Every single day, there are people out there who do not know where their next meal is going to come from."

The Holiday Stars Project is led by a Holiday Stars committee, made up of representatives from many different areas on campus.

"When our committee first met, we decided we needed a goal, and our goal was to begin a UIS holiday service tradition and create a direction for what UIS could do for our community, especially during the holiday season," said Kelly Thompson, director of the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center. "We felt it was important to help our community in these times of economic uncertainty. We want to thank the community as well, who was wonderfully receptive to this effort."

UIS, teamed up with members of the community, collected more than two tons of food, Ringeisen said.

"I'm told this will probably feed 2,000 families," he said. "I'm very proud of the students, faculty and staff that gathered together to do this at this time of the year. This is a difficult time for both those who need the food and those who are giving it away, so that makes it even more special."

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Students gives campus a Kenyan experience

By Courtney Westlake



A tiny, one-room hut with a cot sat in the lobby of the Public Affairs Center on Wednesday, giving passerby a glimpse into the lives of people living in the slums in Kenya, Africa.

The hut was part of an all-day exhibit set up by members of Jump for Joel, an organization started by UIS student Shana Stine after she volunteered for a month at a Kenyan orphanage called the Gathiga Children's Hope Home in July 2007. In July 2008, she returned again with five additional UIS students to work at the orphanage.

"This is an exhibit from our trip to Kenya this past July," Stine said. "We're coming and showing videos and pictures, and we have a model shanty up, which is something you would see in the slum areas for housing."

The exhibit was in coordination with National Hunger and Homelessness Week this week. Members of Jump for Joel had seen a local church do a similar demonstration and liked the idea of setting up a model of a Kenyan shanty to raise awareness of global poverty.

"So we thought we'd combine it with the gallery of photos that Shana had done last year," said Lindsey Lasley, who accompanied Stine to Kenya this past summer. "As we see people walk in the door, they stop and wonder why this hut is placed in the middle of lobby. Then they have been reading the signs that explain what is going on."

Stine said she hopes the display will help to create an understanding that poverty is a real issue, not simply a collection of statistics.

"There really are kids that are hungry in this world," she said. "And the pictures - the kids are absolutely beautiful. A lot of times when we talk about Africa, we talk about just poverty, but their joy is something you don't always see here in the U.S. They're so happy, so we wanted to show that."

The Kenyan experience is also hoped to raise awareness about Jump for Joel. The group passed out information about the various ways students, staff and faculty can get involved with the effort.

"We are a group of students here at UIS and at Lincoln Land who think we don't have to be apathetic. Our generation sometimes gets a bad rap for being indifferent and unconcerned, so this is our way of helping the kids who we met," Stine said. "We're not just taking a trip; we're following up on that with action."

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Holiday Stars Project original goal surpassed

The 10 teams that took part in the campus' first Trick or Treat for Canned Goods competition on Halloween collected 2049 pounds of food, surpassing the original Holiday Stars Project goal of 2008 pounds of food for the Central Illinois Foodbank.

Sponsored by Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, the Holiday Stars Project is a campus-wide service initiative giving focus to UIS' efforts to make a difference in the local community during the upcoming holiday season.

Kelly Thompson, director of the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, said, "Given the students' enthusiasm and energy for this project and the wonderful response they received, the Project Committee challenges the campus community to help us double our first goal and collect 4016 pounds of food by December 4."

Members of the campus community can place donations of non-perishable food items in specially marked bins around campus, now through December 3. Everything collected during the project will be presented to the Foodbank on December 4.

For more information, contact the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center at 6-7716.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

AmeriCorps volunteers participate in Opening Day Ceremonies

By Courtney Westlake



A group of sixteen UIS students joined dozens of people from around the state at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in downtown Springfield to participate in the Illinois AmeriCorps Opening Day Ceremonies at the Capitol and celebrate the opportunity to make a difference.

"Today has been really amazing," said UIS sophomore Josephine Marquez, an AmeriCorps member. "I have seen people from all the way back home in the Chicago area."

The 2008-2009 Midwest Campus Compact Citizen-Scholar Fellows AmeriCorps Program is an initiative that creates opportunities for students to work together as agents of civic change in their local communities and on their campuses. UIS is one of only seven universities in the state that participates in this AmeriCorps Education Award program.

Students selected to be in the AmeriCorps program have demonstrated academic potential as well as an interest in service and civic engagement activities.

"I love volunteering; I started in high school," said Jackson Kern, a freshman. "When I got to UIS, I found out I could get a grant for $1,000 for being in AmeriCorps and doing 300 hours of service. It's well worth it; you get to meet a lot of new people."

Marquez said she has been volunteering for years as well and jumped at the chance to live in the Leadership for Life wing in Lincoln Residence Hall and volunteer through AmeriCorps.

"When applying for college, UIS had a service wing, and to me, I thought it was a great idea to be living with people who did service," she said. "This year, Kelly Thompson (director of the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center) has come in and revamped everything. I figured it'd be great to be with people who love to do service."

The UIS students who participated in Thursday's events were thrilled with the opportunity to meet others in the AmeriCorps program and participate in the Opening Day Ceremonies.

"I find it amazing that you can find so many people who are also interested in service and are doing something to impact their community," Marquez said.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

UIS receives grant from Women for Women Giving Circle

On September 10 the Women for Women initiative of the Sangamon County Community Foundation awarded its first-ever grant of $10,000 to a joint mentoring program of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center and UIS Athletics.

In the Girl to Girl DreamSpeakers Program, UIS female athletes will serve as mentors to approximately 120 female students in grades 8 through 10 in Springfield public schools.

Download a pdf file of a news release announcing the award.

WomenforWomenGrantAward.pdf

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Monday, September 08, 2008

UIS students selected for AmeriCorps program

Will complete nearly 5,000 hours of community service

A cohort of 16 University of Illinois at Springfield students -- 12 first-year students and four upperclassmen -- have been selected to participate in the 2008-2009 Midwest Campus Compact Citizen-Scholar (M3C) Fellows AmeriCorps Program, an initiative that creates opportunities for students to work together as agents of civic change in their local communities and on their campuses. UIS is one of only seven universities in the state (and the only U of I campus) that participates in this AmeriCorps Education Award program.

Students chosen for the program receive a $1,000 award to use toward educational expenses in return for 300 hours of community service. Selected students have demonstrated academic potential as well as an interest in service and civic engagement activities.

Kelly Thompson, director of UIS' Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, noted, "We will be working with several local not-for-profit agencies that have agreed to be host sites for the students. When it's all said and done, this UIS group alone will have completed almost 5,000 hours of community service." Thompson said that UIS received a grant through Midwest Campus Compact and the Corporation for National and Community Service to fund the student awards.

"It's a wonderful way for UIS to be able to provide financial support to our students while also assisting the community," she added.

First-year students are required to meet with upperclassmen peer mentors once a week and with the entire cohort once a month. Each upperclassman mentors three first-year students.

Typical activities for AmeriCorps students include tutoring younger students; working with Habitat for Humanity; volunteering at Boys and Girls Clubs or Big Brothers/Big Sisters; working at animal humane societies; and serving at hospitals and healthcare centers. In addition to community service activities, the UIS group will participate in the Illinois AmeriCorps service day at the Capitol in October.

This year's group of first-year students, their hometowns and majors, are: Cierra Davis, Chicago, Business Administration; Monique Johnson, Chicago, Psychology; Erin Jones, Morton Grove, Liberal Studies; Jackson Kern, Kansas, Business Administration; Tia King, Windsor, Social Work/Criminal Justice; Xuan Pham, Chicago, Biology; Vanessa Pulido, Chicago, Social Work; Lawrence Salley, Belleville, Legal Studies; Denise Scott, Chicago, Criminal Justice; Whitley Simmons, Moro, Legal Studies; Shelva Stinson, Chicago, Legal Studies; and Rashonda Williams, Chicago, Business Administration.

Peer mentors are: Jaleesa Earthely, Chicago, Psychology (sophomore); Amy Hargis, Sparta, Biology (sophomore); Brittane Maddox, Calumet City, Psychology (junior); and Josephine Marquez, Round Lake Beach, Political Studies (sophomore).

Others Illinois campuses that participate in M3C Fellows AmeriCorps Program are Rend Lake College, DePaul University, Loyola University of Chicago, Rockford College, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, and Trinity Christian College.

The Midwest Campus Compact Citizen-Scholar Fellows Program is a 10-state initiative led by the Wisconsin Campus Compact and committed to integrating education with a lifelong commitment to active community and civic engagement.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Media Advisory: UIS Cares project

In observance of UIS Cares Day, the Office of Student Volunteer Services & Civic Engagement will complete a beautification project on Wednesday, April 30, at Jefferson Middle School.

The event is part of UIS' participation in National Volunteer Week. UIS selected Jefferson Middle School as the project site this year because of a strong mentoring partnership between the university and the school. Read more>>

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