IWU First-Year Students Volunteer to Connect with Community
August 25, 2005
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Instead of sleeping through their first Saturday morning (after
their first Friday night!) at college, more than 100 of Illinois Wesleyan University’s
first-year students will spend part of August 27 weeding at a Girl Scout camp near
Lake Bloomington, tutoring teens in a computer lab or helping to construct a house.
For the last eight years, since the implementation of Fall Festival, IWU’s first-year
student orientation program, new students have been encouraged to get involved in
the Bloomington-Normal community by participating in a variety of local service projects
offered on the Saturday before the fall semester begins.
Derrick Tillman-Kelly of South Holland, Ill., a first-year student majoring in biology
as part of IWU’s pre-medical program, is looking forward to leading games and distributing
ID kits for children at a Catholic Charities Back-to-School Bash in Normal. “I thought
it sounded like the best opportunity to meet people and also spend time around kids,”
he said, explaining his project choice.
Illinois Wesleyan faculty, staff and students are committed to local philanthropy,
said Darcy Greder, IWU’s associate dean of student affairs and co-curricular programming.
According to Greder, the Fall Festival community service day allows new students to
continue the university’s tradition of civic involvement while building an individual
connection to the community.
Greder added that the service projects “are a healthy and constructive use of time”
for students who may suddenly find themselves with nothing to do over the weekend
but worry about Monday morning and their first college classes.
The event continues to grow. Two years ago, students could choose from among approximately
six volunteer options. This year, 13 service activities will accommodate up to 210
student volunteers, who will each work for approximately two hours on the project
that best fits their interests, skills and schedule.
The organizations providing volunteer opportunities include the American Red Cross,
the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Catholic Charities, the Girl Scouts of the United
States of America, Habitat for Humanity and the National Urban League, in addition
to local organizations such as the Ecology Action Center in Normal, the McLean County
Museum of History, the McLean County AIDS Task Force, and Mission Mart, a thrift store
that benefits Home Sweet Home Ministries in Bloomington.
Contact: Rebecca Welzenbach, (309) 556-3181