Wayne State alumni from around the world find creative ways to give back

Summary of the WSU Alumni Week of Service impactIn 2020, so much changed. But even as new, dire needs arose because of COVID-19, many of the problems society encountered pre-pandemic did not just disappear. Children were still hospitalized with chronic illnesses, hunger and illiteracy still ravaged lives, and nonprofits across the globe still had to accomplish their missions despite dwindling donations and tighter budgets. Challenges new and old created a call for service like never before, but lending assistance has been difficult in many communities where people remain safely sequestered in their homes. Nevertheless, Wayne State University alumni worldwide still found creative ways to make an impact, even in these unprecedented times.

From Monday, October 19 through Saturday, October 24, 2020, WSU alumni in places as far as Sweden joined forces to participate in the inaugural WSU Alumni Week of Service. This week of volunteering, mostly encompassing remote socially-distanced volunteer opportunities, benefitted the university, Detroit, and many communities where alumni reside across the world.

The combined efforts during the WSU Alumni Week of Service demonstrated the catalytic power of what happens when #WarriorsGiveBack. Eighty six alumni, along with additional family and friends, contributed more than 100 hours of volunteer service, benefitting more than 45 organizations.

Alumni donated more than 70 books to literacy groups and approximately 100 lbs. of food to organizations battling hunger. More than 30 volunteers crafted cards from the comfort of home and sent thoughtful letters of support to hospitalized children and veterans of armed services. Together, WSU Alumni proudly lent an expansive contribution of time and talent to the National Make a Difference Day that symbolized the end of the Week of Service on October 24.

Volunteers included WSU graduates of every decade since the 1960s. In addition to Michigan, volunteers conducted their service from states including California, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio, and Washington.

Bethany Grace ’12 owns a coffee shop in Oscoda, Michigan. Her Sunrise Kava Café donated 10% of sales for October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, to the organization Hope Shores Alliance, which strives to create a safe environment for sexual assault survivors.

Grace said her women-run shop was proud to support Hope Shores Alliance.

"As a woman-owned and operated business, this is a cause we are very proud to be supporting. It is our way of giving back to the community, helping to create awareness for victims of abuse, helping to give the message to battered souls that someone does care, there are safe havens for you and your family, and most importantly, you are enough.”

Rick Shaughnessy ‘80 participated in the launch of the fourth annual Turkey Project at the Monarch Family School in San Diego, where his community comes together to prepare holiday meals for homeless and underprivileged families as part of the school's annual Harvest Festival.

Heather Eady ’16 volunteered for Sound Generations in Seattle, Washington.

“I am a volunteer driver who takes older adults to medical appointments in my personal vehicle. This has become even more important during the pandemic since public transportation increases the risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

Sejla Kulaglic ’12, M.S. ’18 participated with Kiwanis Club #1 Detroit, Michigan, to provide children with free books.

“We distributed titles from our 50,000+ book inventory at our warehouse. Surrounding Detroit schools and organizations have been picking up books from us for over ten years."

Sue Lawrence ’77, ’75 stitched together hope for people by making use of her quilting talents.

"I'm a member of the Cotton Patch Quilters in Athens, Georgia, and regularly participate with our Charity Bee. We donate scores of quilts annually to a wide range of community organizations including the area council on aging, women's shelter, homeless shelters, cancer patient programs, and youth programs”.

Chris Bowen ‘93 helped safely provide meals to people through St. Leo's Soup Kitchen Ministry in Wayne County, Michigan.

“Members of my Allen Park parish, St. Frances Cabrini, volunteer monthly to provide hot meals to our most vulnerable and at-risk population. Because of COVID, all meals are now bagged to go.”

Whether it was food, a card, or some other form of compassion – Warriors truly made a difference during the inaugural WSU Alumni Week of Service. Please stay connected with the Wayne State University Alumni Association to learn about additional volunteer opportunities.

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