Scores of alumni Rise Up and Serve in April
Elon graduates throughout the country gave back to their communities during the inaugural Nationwide Alumni Month of Service.
Alumni chapters and clubs organized events throughout April to share the Elon tradition of service in their cities and towns. Several alumni registered activities of their own to make an impact on their communities.
“I was fortunate enough to have a great upbringing and a great education,” David Vetter ’85 said. Vetter volunteers his time teaching English to speakers of other languages in Efland, N.C., just down the road from Elon. “I am proud to share some of that with those who have not been so lucky but are striving to make better lives for themselves.”
Continue reading this post to see how other graduates celebrated Elon’s Nationwide Alumni Month of Service.
Eleven alumni took part in the Knock Out Cancer 5K Run in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta. Alissa Wilke ’09finished first in the women’s division of the race, which supports the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Other alumni in attendance included Zach Morris ’07, Mary Newman ’06, Ashley Feibish ’07, Jackie Lewis ’07, Janell Martin ’07, Brian McElroy ’07, VJ Galloway ’09, Parker Ward ’09 and Durice White ’09.
Several alumni visited the Moveable Feast food bank, where the chapter has held service events for the past two years. Graduates in attendance included Tiffany Stephens '99, Steve Earley ’04 G’10, Christie Allen ’05, Jennifer Hiltwine ’09 and Bernadette Bui ’10.
"Each time we have participated in an event there, we've had the opportunity to learn a little more about the individuals that we are able to help," Stephens said. "We often forget how fortunate we really are until we are reminded of situations that surround us daily."
Graduates volunteered at the Pine Street Inn, which serves more than 12,000 homeless individuals in the Boston area. In addition to preparing meals, the inn’s staff educated the chapter members about the important, varied services the organization provides.
“We all feel that it is important for us to continue our ‘Elon ways’ of valuing service and living our daily lives with compassion for each other and those less fortunate,” Libby Russell ’10 said. “We love this city, and we really enjoy participating in any effort that makes it a better place to live.”
Other alumni in attendance included Heather ’06 and Sean ’06 White, Kyle Shade ’08 and Meghan Cronen ’09.
At its two April events – a young alumni cornhole outing and the annual faculty/staff social – chapter members collected notebooks, pencils and other supplies to donate to Classroom Central. The organization functions as a "free store" for teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Gaston, Iredell-Statesville, Union, Kannapolis & Rock Hill school districts. Materials distributed are used to create inviting learning environments and to promote students' academic and personal growth.
Elon alumni joined Chicago-area graduates of other universities to help refurbish St. Margaret Mary School with support from the Big Shoulders Fund. Our alumni worked on repainting a classroom.
“Being an educator, I enjoyed this particular service event and the chance to make a classroom more inviting,” Jeanette Olli ’03 said. “Making the community you call home a brighter place in some way can only improve the environment where you live and will hopefully inspire others to give back, too.”
Other alumni in attendance included Katie Olinger ’07, Katie Reese ’09 and Emily Sanner ’10.
Alumni took part in Nashville's Best Buddies Friendship Walk in Centennial Park, and many brought their furry "best buddies" - their pets.
More than 15 alumni participated in a volunteer outing at the Ballard Food Bank downtown.
Chapter members attended two events to support the needy in central North Carolina. Alumni collected canned goods at a Thursday-night social in Brier Creek, N.C., then donated the items to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina while volunteering on-site the following Saturday.
Washington, D.C. Chapter
Eighteen alumni volunteered for an afternoon at the D.C. Central Kitchen, which prepares more than 5,000 meals per day and distributes them to homeless shelters , transitional homes and nonprofit organizations. Chapter members took part in the tedious work of chopping hundreds of tomatoes and making sandwiches.
Kathy Harper ’72, Ocala, Fla.
Spends more than 30 hours per week as a guardian ad litem
Chris Martin ’78 P’13, Hudson County, N.J.
Worked with several Elon alumni and employees at Provident Bank readying clothing and household goods for sale at the United Way Quality Resale Store
Meri Ford Newell ’79, Petal, Miss.
Volunteered with the Petal Women Build group to construct houses for low-income families
Jeanne Tucker ’90, Salisbury, N.C.
Spent an afternoon completing cleaning, repair and landscaping jobs at the Lebanon Lutheran Church
Angela Bostic-Phelps ’91, Kernersville, N.C.
Volunteered at the Union Cross Technical Academy’s annual Science Festival
Kimberly Adkins Keaton ’91, Simpsonville, S.C.
Worked on a landscaping project with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity
Brian Owen ’93, Raleigh, N.C.
Participated in a walk to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund
Tracy-Lynn Schuster ’94 G’05, Warrensville, N.C.
Serves as president of the new Ashe County (N.C.) Habitat for Humanity affiliate and spent much of April helping to construct its first house. “My first introduction to Habitat was while I was at Elon,” Schuster says, “and now, here I am, still involved and applying what I learned to serve others. So cool – so blessed!”
Laura Lyerly Milliken ’96 & Ashley Chastain ’00, Harrisburg, N.C.
Worked at several events for Autism Speaks’ Greater Carolinas Chapter
Aimee Carter ’97, Charlottesville, Va.
Volunteered with team cleaning up a playground at Johnson Elementary School
Darrin Haywood ’97, Mt. Airy, N.C.
Spent an evening preparing and serving meals at Westfield Baptist Church for a group of missionaries preparing to leave for Alaska
Racheal Stimpson ’97, Stimpson, N.C.
Participated in a local run/walk to benefit autism research
Katie Ciesak ’99, Delaware City, Del.
Worked with patients at a local rehabilitation center
T.J. Reynolds-Emwanta ’01, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Spent an afternoon distributing bags of toiletries and basic supplies to the homeless of Winston-Salem
Paul Grimes ’02, Farmville, N.C.
Worked with parishioners to clean up and repair the Farmville United Methodist Church
Brian Hooper ’06, Charlotte, N.C.
Spent two evenings serving meals and providing childcare through programs at the Forest Hill Church
Jordan Kienzle ’06, Chicago, Ill.
Volunteered with Minds Matter, a program that equips underprivileged high-school students with tools to gain acceptance to four-year universities
Laura Eastes ’08, Georgetown, Ky.
Traveled with volunteers from the Northside Christian Church to prepare a church camp for the summer season
Jacquelyn McKinney ’08, Silver Spring, Md.
Jackie McKinney is the elementary school program director for Kid Power, Inc., a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. Here are some highlights from a note she sent us about her service activity:
"I took the challenge a step further by also encouraging my elementary school students to 'Rise Up & Serve' their communities as part of global Youth Service Day. ... two schools were interested in youth homelessness issues, one school focused on healthy eating and childhood obesity, and the last school focused on creating signs for their community garden. ... 68 students volunteered for 200+ hours, in addition to the 20+ hours I spent organizing and volunteering at the projects. They each were a huge success and proved that you're never too young to 'Rise Up & Serve!'"
Larissa Ferretti ’09 & Brian Beaty ’09, Auburn, Ala.
Participated in the Auburn Relay for Life to honor Ferretti’s father, Richard, who is a lung cancer survivor
Sam Slaughter ’09, Manchester, N.H.
Volunteers several hours weekly at the Friends of Manchester animal shelter
We look forward to rising up and serving with you next year!