News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 21, 2014

VIDEO: Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Day of service

ISU sends volunteers out to revive community

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State University students Paige Clouse and Samantha Beccari wore face masks and gloves as they helped clean up an abandoned house on South 13 1⁄2 Street.

They carried trash bag after trash bag outside to a large container stationed out front.

More than a dozen ISU students participated in the effort to clean out the Habitat for Humanity-built house that will be gutted, rehabbed and then put on the market, with proceeds to help build another Habitat home, said Bill Warden, a Habitat for Humanity volunteer who oversaw the students’ work on Monday.

The students volunteered at the site as part of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, which is sponsored by ISU’s Center for Community Engagement. About 20 nonprofit agencies benefited and an estimated 400 people participated, primarily students but also some family, staff and community members.

Their task in cleaning up the home was not a pleasant one, but Clouse and Beccari — members of Delta Gamma sorority — didn’t mind. “I had no idea what I was coming to do but I’m happy to be here and happy to help in any way,” said Clouse, a Terre Haute freshman.

“We love helping people,” said Beccari, a freshman and pre-med major from Michigan.

Warden said Habitat is grateful for the students’ effort. “It’s a wonderful thing. What they are going to get done today would have taken us several weeks with the limited volunteers we have,” he said.

The family that had owned the home “didn’t work out,” Warden said. The rehabbed home will be put up for sale because “we only put families in brand new houses,” he said.

Also assisting were Jonathan Wells and Jorge Jemison, who cleaned out a backyard shed; both are members of the Brotherhood of Successful Scholars. Wells took a day off work to volunteer.

“We try to give back to the community as much as possible,” said Jemison a freshman from Chicago. It was a dirty job, but “I’m glad I’m here.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service “is a day on, not a day off,” said Jennifer Christian, Americorps program director at ISU.

The event draws a large number of participants each year, she said. In recent years, during student orientation, the Center for Community Engagement tells students, “To be a Sycamore is to serve. I think our students are really understanding that.”

While some students participate for extra class credit, others volunteer with their student organizations or they just want to give back to the community.

One group of girls at the South 131⁄2 Street site found an unwanted guest — a big spider. They were undeterred. “I feel like giving back to the community is really important,” said ISU freshman Shyla Gilbert. “We should help others out instead of just ourselves.”

Meanwhile, at the Goodwill Industries store at 2702 S. Third St., ISU seniors Derrick Robinson and Earl Donald assisted with inventory of clothing in the back of the store.

Both seniors said they sometimes shop at Goodwill looking for good deals. They didn’t realize all the behind-the-scenes work that goes on. “Helping the community out has really helped me along the way,” Robinson said.

Donald, an automotive engineering major from St. Louis, said he didn’t have a lot going on Monday “so why not try to give back to the community as much as I can?”

Both participate in BOMB, Black Optimistic Men and Brothers, a student organization that empowers black minority males and helps ensure their success in college.

About 18 students assisted at the three Terre Haute stores.

Wabash Valley Goodwill appreciates the student volunteers and the opportunity to partner with ISU, said Meredith Osburn, retail operations director. “It lets the students know that we’re here and what our mission is about,” she said.

In the store portion of the building, ISU freshman Alivia Redmond assisted with an inventory of toys. A psychology major from Hammond, she said that helping people is her career calling. “That’s kind of who I am. I just like to help and get involved,” she said.

She also loves shopping at stores like Goodwill and Plato’s Closet.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or