How do Sycamores give thanks?

With the help of Indiana State’s Center for Community Engagement, we talked to six individuals who give thanks to the community through civic service and other acts of kindness.

Susie McNeely

What do you do? “Anything I can,” said Susie McNeely, who works in the Residential Life department. “Anything that anyone needs. But especially, in particular, we’re very proud of the Sycamore Giving Tree.”

Every year at Christmas, McNeely and her Res Life colleagues collect the names of children and grandchildren in need. “We take in as many as we get, we don’t say no to anyone, we don’t put an age limit on it. If it’s someone’s child, it’s their child.” They have even gifted the children of temporary workers.

Five years ago, the program served approximately 32 children. It has graduated to more than 50 children in the past two years and serving 60 last year (which prompted the wrapping of more than 300 presents). “It’s hard, but it’s fun,” she said.

“It’s a very complex thing and very simple at the same time: very complex to keep track of the children, who’s buying their gift and giving that gift back to the right child. It’s very simple, because it’s just about caring about someone and taking care of them.”

The increase in the number of children served poses an increased opportunity for others, including McNeely, to give thanks for what they have and to provide for those who are unable to have.

The concept is much like an angel tree — “pick one,” says McNeely to those who want to help, but do not know where to start. “Because you still made a difference in someone’s life.”

What inspires you?

“Everyone needs help sometimes,” said McNeely. “This is like my second family. I would encourage anybody to do this, no matter how small a scale they do it on. It’s a good feeling; I get more out of it than they do.”

McNeely may be the program’s driving force according to her colleagues, but without those same people, McNeely claims, the program would not be able to exist.

“It’s really not me. It’s everybody. I couldn’t do it without Lauraly (DuBois, technology manager), because she coordinates the computer part so we can track everything. I couldn’t do it without everyone who buys. People on campus are so generous. It’s a nice feeling.”


Bruce McLaren

Bruce McLaren talks with Indiana State students in hallway of Federal Hall.

Bruce McLaren talks with Indiana State students in hallway of Federal Hall.

What do you do? “I have been involved in the local United Way for more than 10 years,” said Bruce McLaren, associate dean at the Scott College of Business and professor of management information systems.

His involvement has included various task forces, funding review teams, chairing funding review teams (as he does now) and determining how the collective annual donations for United Way of Wabash Valley are allocated between their more than 30 not-for-profit member agencies, which cover six counties in Indiana and Illinois. McLaren was given the Solomon Award in 2012, presented to the community leader who demonstrates extraordinary wisdom, responsiveness and flexibility in distributing United Way funding.

“My wife, Connie, and I chaired the ISU United Way fund raising campaign for three years, and I still maintain the United Way web site for the campus campaign,” he said.

Aside from the many projects McLaren has with the United Way, he also dedicates his time to the place where he and his wife, an operations and supply chain management professor at Indiana State, were married: Central Presbyterian Church.

“[It] has been my home for many years,” he said. To his church, as to Indiana State and the United Way, McLaren utilizes his financial abilities as the church treasurer, member of the finance committee and technology task force, and a member of the building renovation task force — “at the same time we were renovating Federal Hall,” said McLaren. He has also served as elder in his church and sings in two choirs.

What inspires you?

“Basically, I enjoy helping people and don’t mind stepping up to volunteer or lead. I was taught that giving back is the right thing to do, and it gives me much satisfaction,” he said.

United Way is an effective organization for focusing donations from the six-county region for use by human services agencies like the Red Cross, Council on Domestic Abuse, Catholic Charities, Chances and Services for Youth and so forth, McLaren said.

“The UWWV motto is LIVE UNITED, and by volunteering in the area of fund allocation, I am able to use some of my professional training and make a difference for people in the Wabash Valley,” he said. “I have tapped a number of university colleagues to be involved with United Way who have likewise made a difference for our community.”


Pam Chamberlain

Pam Chamberlain

Pam Chamberlain

What do you do? Pam Chamberlain has been a volunteer on the planning committee for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life (Vigo & Clay counties) for the past seven years. She has served as chair, media specialist and mission and team development specialist to the Society. As Relay for Life Event chair, Chamberlain has planned the events, worked with media relations and served as team captain.

“In 2012, I successfully gained permission by Mayor Duke Bennett and by President Bradley to start the ‘Paint the Town Purple’ campaign,” Chamberlain said. They decorated the light poles with posters and ribbons and displayed cancer awareness signs along Wabash Avenue, while leading a group of volunteers to paint a large purple cancer awareness ribbon on the street at the intersection of 8th and Wabash. Another was painted on North 9th Street in front of the Indiana State University Simmons Recreation Center to bring community awareness to cancer and help promote Relay for Life. She also lead student volunteers to hang cancer awareness posters promoting upcoming events for Donaghy Day.

In 2013, she acted as the executive site champion for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study (CPS-3) on campus. The purpose of the study was to better understand the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that cause or prevent cancer. She was the media chair, writing all press releases and promoting the event at Indiana State and two other Wabash Valley sites. She was also the logistics chair for the kickoff event, informing the public of the research study.

What inspires you?

“Both my parents went through cancer,” Chamberlain said, “and I lost my best friend to the disease. That is where I am most passionate. I am continuing my education at ISU in the communication program in public relations, so I can better strengthen my skills and make me a better advocate for my passion — American Cancer Society.”

Chamberlain established the Kris Lance Eaton Higher Achievement Scholarship through the Indiana State University Foundation in memory of her friend, who died of lung cancer three years ago. She holds various fundraisers to establish the scholarship, raising over $1,000. The first scholarship was awarded in 2013 to a Terre Haute North Vigo High School student, who is now attending Indiana State University.

Chamberlain’s personal team for this year’s Relay for Life, Team Kris, raised $4,000 in memory of her best friend. The event raised a total of nearly $45,000.


Trinere Bacon

Trinere Bacon, left, and a student at the Deming Park Pool. It was her last day at the center because she had to leave for school in Indianapolis.

Trinere Bacon, left, and a student at the Deming Park Pool. It was her last day at the center because she had to leave for school in Indianapolis.

What do you do? Trinere Bacon, a senior from Springfield, Ill., majoring in human development and family studies with a minor in early childhood education, gives thanks to the community through the AmeriCorps. She serves at the 14th and Chestnut Community Center.

What inspires you?

“Being able to impact youth is what inspires me the most in helping the community,” Bacon said. “Every child that walks through the doors of 14th and Chestnut Community Center, come from different backgrounds. Some may need mentoring, help with homework, someone to talk with or even a hot meal. Most importantly, many children come to the center to be accepted just the way they are, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to do so.”

Bacon also encourages others to take a proactive role about creating change to improve life for themselves and those they care about. “Remember the quote by Gandhi, which is ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ It starts with you!”


Calen McDonald

What do you do? Calen McDonald is an AmeriCorps member who served 450 hours with the Special Olympics in four months over the summer. She is a sophomore from Terre Haute who is studying dental hygiene.

“I got to help coach and all kinds of things with different people with disabilities, so that was something that was really awesome,” McDonald said. “And now that I’m still there, I can see how much they’ve improved and how thankful they are that I’m there and friends with them, so that’s really rewarding.”

She finds it further rewarding, because it is located in her hometown. McDonald describes AmeriCorps as “the domestic version of the Peace Corps,” with a focus on volunteer and community service work. She volunteers at Happiness Bag, which is located near Bogey’s and provides resources and activities to children and adults with disabilities. Through Happiness Bag, McDonald is able to supervise trips to the bowling alley and other places.

She has also participated in alternative spring break trips, and is currently a student leader for a December excursion through the Community Engagement Center. There, McDonald and others be working with marine biology and animals down south. The trip is in its fundraising stage.

McDonald is now on her second term with AmeriCorps, serving 450 hours for 9 months.

What inspires you?

“I just feel like making other people happy is something that makes me happy. I feel like I have a purpose, and I feel like a lot of people don’t get to experience that minority,” McDonald said.

“Another thing with being there that’s really opened my eyes is, they are the most kind-hearted people — so accepting, like they can be upset one minute and completely fine the next. They don’t understand all the terrible things in the world. They only see the good parts, so that’s something that people need to realize. It’s a gift. It’s like a curse and a gift.”


Matthew Janeway

What do you do? Matthew Janeway, a recreation and sport management major, has been volunteering since a very young age. Growing up, Janeway’s parents were heavily involved in leadership roles in programs such as 4-H, March of Dimes, Relay for Life and Building Industry Consulting Service International, an international telecommunications association. Volunteering is an integral part of his family, he said.

“My mother was the manager of a Humane Society in Owen County, with myself and my sister volunteering regularly,” Janeway said. “As I grew older I found myself trying to make a positive difference in the community around me, whether this is at home in Greencastle or right here in the Wabash Valley.”

Janeway is now a senior majoring in recreation and sport management with a concentration on outdoor recreational management and youth leadership development. Following his parents, Janeway’s list of leadership roles and projects is extensive. Since his junior year of high school, he has been involved in the Reelsville Volunteer Fire Department and is currently a board certified and licensed firefighter. He is also a nationally licensed and recognized emergency medical technician. When he attended University of Southern Indiana, he affiliated himself with their local volunteer fire department until he transferred to Indiana State, where “my sense of duty to the community has undergone a dramatic change.”

Since “day one” at Indiana State, Janeway has also been involved with Susan G. Komen Wabash Valley. His notable projects with the organization include conducting educational talks at the Indiana Women’s Correctional Facility in Rockville and helping to plan and implement numerous new events in the area, such as the Jammin’ For the Cure, The Pink Drag Race Series at the Crossroads Drag Strip and several chamber of commerce events in various communities “in our 11 county service area.” Janeway was asked to co-chair the 2013 Race for the Cure, as well is 2014’s race.

“While I was in Dallas training for this opportunity, I was notified that I was one of the youngest chairs in the history of the event at 22 years old and one of only a handful of males to hold the title,” he said.

This year, he received the distinction of being one of the youngest chairs for consecutive years. “During my tenure at Komen, I have served on the board of directors, been a representative to national and regional meetings and have had the honor to meet the national CEO Judy Salerno.” He is currently a federal workstudy student at Susan G. Komen.

Janeway also serves on the district committee as the chairman of the activities and civic service committee for Boy Scouts of America (Crossroads of America Council-Wabash Valley).I plan all camporees that the troops and boys participate in at the district level,” in addition to visiting elementary schools in the area and talking to boys about the values of being a cub scout, he said.

On campus, he is chairman of both the Rho Phi Lambda and the Student Government Association’s academic affairs committee, as well as being the vice president of professional development for the Nonprofit Student Leadership Alliance and the President of Association of Fundraising Professionals (collegiate chapter). He is also involved in Autism Speaks U.

Janeway is also involved with Autism Speaks, United Way, Happiness Bag, Humane Society of Terre Haute, Center for Courageous Kids in Kentucky, Camp Friend in Greencastle Indiana and the American Camping Association National and Indiana Chapters.

What inspires you?

“It’s my generation’s social and civic duty to volunteer, to help those less fortunate around us and to prompt change. When I go out and interact with children, I see the future leaders of America. I see the doctors, the CEO’s, the teachers, the policy makers and changers, I see our future, and there is absolutely nothing better than knowing I helped shaped the future through my selfless civic service,” he said.

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