UW-Stout: Week of Service helps to build community connections

Faculty, staff and students from UW-Stout volunteered at three community organizations over the course of four days, as part of Stout’s Week of Service, coinciding with National Volunteer Week, April 18-22.

Volunteers painted, cleaned flower beds, raked yards, picked up trash, cleaned commons areas and helped to sort and store donated items at the Menomonie Area Senior Center, United Way of Dunn County C-3 Center and West CAP.

The week of opportunities was coordinated by UW-Stout’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office in partnership with the United Way of Dunn County.

Jennifer Thatcher, executive director of United Way of Dunn County, believes volunteers and community are invaluable. “UW-Stout has taken the concept of giving back to the highest level by helping our community be better today than it was yesterday. Thank you for including United Way in your Week of Service,” she said.

“UW-Stout welcomes opportunities to connect with and make a positive impact in our community,” said Chancellor Katherine Frank.

“I’m grateful to the students, faculty, staff and community partners for coordinating and participating in these volunteer activities.”

Volunteers were also scheduled to help at the Bridge to Hope and Positive Alternatives, but because of the weather, activities have been rescheduled for dates in May.

University volunteer leads were interim Executive Director of EDI Dominique Vargas; Heidi Catlin, teaching, learning and technical director for Learning Technology Services; Cally Henderson, administrative specialist with Human Resources; Britta Miller, student affairs manager with the Dean of Students Office; and Bethany Risler, executive assistant with the Chancellor’s Office.

“UW-Stout is excited to continue to build partnerships with our community, and volunteerism is one way for us to do this,” Vargas said.

“This opportunity was important to the university, as it allowed faculty, staff and students to work together in efforts to assist with projects for local organizations rather than on campus and in the classroom. Stout’s Week of Service provided opportunities for us to build internal and community relationships. We are looking forward to finding ways to support similar efforts next year.”

Building staff and community connections

Ten members of the lead teaching staff from the university’s Child and Family Study Center will volunteer together at the Bridge to Hope on Monday, May 16, helping with backyard cleanup in preparation for summer.

The CFSC has bi-monthly staff meetings and professional development days that often include team building activities as part of the center’s yearly goals.

This year, one of their goals is to provide opportunities for the center to support social justice issues that impact families, while increasing community engagement. 

The opportunity to volunteer at the Bridge to Hope seemed like a great fit, said CFSC Director Allison Feller.

​“The value of this opportunity is two-fold,” she said. “It provides a different setting for my staff to build connection, communication skills, trust and collaboration, while also benefiting others in the community.

“As a National Association for the Education of Young Children accredited child care program, we value the importance of staying connected to our community while modeling best practices and mentoring to future teachers,” Feller said. “Whenever we can establish new relationships within the community, it can directly benefit our program goals through resources, curriculum, health promotion and inclusion.”

Earth Week also coincided with National Volunteer Week, and the Stout Student Association Sustainability Council hosted a variety of events in collaboration with student organizations and the UW-Sprout campus garden.

The Natural Areas Club organized a cleanup of Galloway Creek. The UW-Sprout Garden hosted a Garden Revival, where volunteers prepared the garden for summer. The Sustainability Office hosted a panel discussion on the History of Logging in Dunn County, and Blue Devil Productions showcased the movie “Cool It,” a documentary on environmentalism.