In October, alumni from central Indiana had the opportunity to come together as volunteers for the taping of an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in Kokomo, Ind. The episode is scheduled to air this Sunday, Jan. 10, at 8/7c on ABC.
AU students, faculty, staff and alumni would not have had the opportunity to participate had it not been for Derek Wilder, a 1990 Anderson University graduate and CEO of Hallmark Homes. He contacted the university to discuss ways current students and others associated with AU could get involved. One important step was by organizing a volunteer service group. The university decided to have a specific day where volunteers would be streamlined into the process.
Ben Davis, AU director of alumni relations, sent out an e-mail to alumni in the area asking them to sign up for a shift through an online registration page. One hundred alumni were needed to fill four-hour shifts. Within 24 hours of the e-mail being sent out, all of the shifts were filled.
Then students were added to the mix, signing up to work in the media tents. They interviewed volunteers, took pictures and kept people informed through social media. “People were really excited to get on board,” Davis said.
Volunteers had the opportunity to carry supplies into the house, help tar and seal the foundation, and hammer, load and cut lumber. “Everyone wanted to get their hands dirty and be a part of what was going on. All the alumni wore orange bandanas – some put them on their head or around their arm or leg, and that was just kind of a group affinity thing where we could identify each other,” said Davis.
Providing opportunities for alumni to serve is encouraging a sense of community.
The department wants to be involved in what the alums are doing after they graduate. They hold several social and recreational events for alumni all over the country every year.
“I think it adds a layer of depth and meaning to the alumni experience to bring in that service aspect and I think people are really hungry to do that in an organized, structured kind of way,” Davis said. It gives alums that are busy with their jobs and families an easy way to get involved with a project that otherwise they would not.
When alumni come together as a group and serve a community, they are living out the university mission: “to educate for a life of faith and service to the rest of society.”
“We got a lot of e-mails after the event just thanking us for arranging it,” said Davis, “I’m glad we did it the way we did.”
— Rebekah Shirar is a junior from Darlington, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Shirar is an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of Alumni Relations.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.