Are your Fridays free? The Volunteer Center’s new program might be calling your name.
The Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center launched its new Service Ambassador Program on Friday at the Mount Pleasant Discovery Museum. The volunteer program works with non-profit organizations to set up service projects weekly for student volunteers.
“Service Ambassadors is a way for students to get involved and get familiar with the non-profits in the area,” Service Ambassadors Student Coordinator Mark Cantrell said. “It’s an opportunity to show students how service off campus can really impact the community.”
The Service Ambassadors program plans to send a group of students to a non-profit organization every Friday, Cantrell said. Under the direction of the organizations, the volunteers perform various jobs and tasks to improve the Mount Pleasant community.
Cantrell said the program is funded through a grant from the Michigan Campus Compact, a non-profit organization that promotes education and community service.
One member, Grass Lake junior Shannon Lester, is enthusiastic about the program and the opportunity to help out in the community.
“My Fridays are always open, and I like being able to go to different places and help out,” she said. “I’m really excited to try the program out.”
Lester heard about the program through Cantrell. The service project at the Discovery Museum was her first time working with the volunteer center, though she has done similar work through the Health Professions Residential College in the past.
The first project for the service program took place at the Discovery Museum, 5093 E. Remus Road. The children’s museum has an indoor playground and a variety of hands-on activities for children to interact with.
The museum plans on having a group of volunteers lend a hand one Friday a month.
“It’s fantastic, because we are constantly in need of help to prepare activities,” Discovery Museum co-founder Heather Frisch said.
The project for the Service Ambassadors last week was to help the museum staff prepare for their Day of Play event. Day of Play is an initiative started by Nickelodeon to encourage children to get more active and play outside. Local events in support of Day of Play took place across the country on Saturday, Frisch said.
The volunteers worked through the afternoon preparing games and activities for the children at the event. They also performed other tasks such as cleaning the building and landscaping.
“Seeing how much fun the little kids had was the best part,” Gaylord senior Jeff Cook said. “The people in charge of the museum were really grateful for the help, too.”
The group does not know what service project it will be doing next week, Cantrell said. They are scheduled to volunteer for the Isabella County Commission on Aging the following week. The group is also working closely with other local non-profits such as Habitat for Humanity ReStore and Community Compassion Network.