Student United Way sparks CMU community involvement, giving back


Student United Way has found its way to Central Michigan University’s campus this year to help students better understand the community around them and how to give back to it.

“We teach students to speak up for causes in an articulate way,” said Andrew Brown, an Okemos senior and Student United Way president. “They learn how to engage with the community and facilitate positive change and lifelong civic engagement to stay connected and feel a part of the community.”

Brown was a student representative chair on the United Way board last academic school year.

Tom Olver, United Way of Isabella County president and CEO, said he believes the organization is a great way to get students more involved in the community before they graduate from CMU.

“The purpose of the Student United Way is to engage (CMU) students in the community while they’re here,” Olver said.

The United Way of Isabella County has 31 different organizations that it umbrellas and conducts tons of fundraising around the county for.

Detroit senior Vincent Thurman, Student United Way public relations and #ChatUnited chair, said students need to know the organization does not just take the money for organizational expenses.

“United Way is an organization that gives back directly what was given to them so the community can benefit,” Thurman said.

The two biggest ways students can help out and become a part of the Student United Way’s efforts are to participate in the High FIVE campaign and the Twitter chats.

The Student United Way’s High FIVE campaign begins Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 13 to raise a goal of $25,000 for the community. Those who donate will have the ability to choose a non-profit to donate to in increments of $5.

“The High FIVE campaign is our way to show the state of Michigan how much students care about Isabella County,” Brown said.

A Twitter feed #ChatUnited will discuss education, income and health with an emphasis on community needs and issues. The live Twitter chat is a one hour conversation from 6-7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month through @HighFIVE4IC.

“We set up the Twitter account specifically for the High FIVE campaign to help individuals to advocate and inform people what we’re doing,” Brown said. “It’s created to dive deeper into those topics to help solve issues or problems in the community.”

The first Twitter chat was conducted on Aug. 26 and discussed education. It also focused on how to help children achieve their potential in education, driven by a set of seven action-orientated questions.

The next discussions will be on income and health and how to connect students to valuable resources.

Thurman believes these discussions will help more than just Isabella County with more and more followers.

“Increasing our followers will increase awareness of the campaigns that the United Way provides, and it allows United Way to give back on a larger scale than to just one community or just one organization,” Thurman said.


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