Volunteerism in our town
As I listened to the requests I realized the numerous city and county projects that are all coordinated and often funded by volunteers. It's amazing that the vast majority of photos and feature stories the newspaper does each week are connected to community, civic, church and volunteer agencies. Where would this country and this city be without the thousands of hours of donated time and effort? And if I were to select one person who might exemplify the spirit of community time who might that be?
Because there are probably hundreds of people who could fit the request one came to mind immediately. That one is Kathy Murray, who coordinates the Sun Center at the College of Eastern Utah. The Sun Center began in 1994 and was first suggested by Gerri Petersen, wife of the then president of CEU, Michael Petersen, who thought it would be a good idea to have a service component on campus. Kathy already had a full time job and that was director of career services, but she was requested to take on the volunteer program. At the time they didn't know what she was suppose to do and the project had no budget.
But they picked the right person, because Kathy grew up in Cedar City and knew volunteerism. As a young girl she was on the ground level of helping get the Shakespeare Festival off and running.
"Everybody volunteered in Cedar City and my mother is still serving the Shakespeare Festival, after all these years," she says.
"Kathy moved to the Price area over 20 years ago and has been with the college for 19 years.
"What I love about Carbon county is that everybody is so caring and kind here." Selected as woman of the year by the annual Women's Conference in 2003, Murray is one of the finest examples of leading volunteer groups in the area. Over the past 10 years her students have expanded and multiplied and now, almost 10 years later they work on virtually every aspect of the community, on and off campus.
The duty of the Sun Center is to train student leaders to work with innovative service-learning partnerships that address critical community needs in areas of education, literacy, homelessness, hunger, environment, health and other human needs. The student project leaders develop partnerships with community agencies, create projects, promote awareness and recruit volunteers to complete the services needed.
The center has been very helpful in calling attention to an increasingly important dimension of student learning and development, that of personal and civic responsibility.
"We are evolving and progressing in our goal," says Murray, who reported that this past fall had the largest number of volunteer hours ever recorded at CEU.
Some of the areas where most of the hours are spent include helping the homeless, newborns in need, habitat for humanities, food bank, and Staying Alive carnival.
Over 1460 hours were logged in just one quarter.
"I feel I am the lucky person," said Kathy, as her eyes filled up with tears, "It's such a blessing that I get to work with so many wonderful young people."
She explained that the programs have really taken off the past few years, with more than 40 classes now taught at CEU with a service learning component in them.
"I am so proud of our students," says Kathy, explaining that at the Utah Service Symposium last week three students out of eight of the honored students were from CEU. These students included Jennifer Jarrett, Haili Coates, and Jessica Wilson. "We are definitely the leader of two-year schools," she added.
And if you call Kathy at the Sun Center, one of the messages you get on her voice mail, is "remember to do good always." That appears to be Kathy's theme. Volunteering has a soft spot in my heart and its people like Kathy Murray that keep it alive in our city.
A fitting tribune to a dedicated woman.