Two Presented President's Award for Civic and Community Leadership Awards

April 2 2007

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Laura James and Crystal Thomas are recipients of the 2007 President's Award for Civic and Community Leadership at Indiana State University.

James, a senior social science education major from Greenwood, has made community service a priority in her life, serving on several committees for projects both on and off campus during her time at ISU. James joined ISU’s Alternative Spring Break group in 2006 and 2007 to work with volunteers in Louisiana and Mississippi as part of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

James was a participant in the inaugural Model House of Representatives in 2006, sitting on the House Financial Services committee. She also has served as a supplemental instructor for Economics 100 classes, developing practice materials to help students better understand the material and holding special study sessions prior to tests.

When not in classes, James is actively involved on campus. She is a member of Alpha Phi sorority, a member of both the Homecoming and Spring Week committees, and a columnist for the student newspaper, the Indiana Statesman. She participates in various volunteer activities such as American Heart Walk, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, Race for the Cure, and Relay for Life. She is also a Sunday school teacher at Maryland Community Church.

“These volunteer experiences have had a tremendous impact on Laura,” Freda Luers, associate director of student activities and organizations said. “She is not shy at letting students and others know the importance of volunteering to help those in need.”

Thomas, a senior information technology major from Fillmore, "is very service-minded," said Debbie Miller, coordinator of volunteer programs at Indiana State. "That is demonstrated by her involvement in several community and college service activities."

Thomas has volunteered with the AmeriCorps program for the past three years, serving at Ryves Youth Center at Etling Hall. During the 2005-2006 year she was named “Outstanding AmeriCorps Member of the Year,” for her dedication to improving both programming and children’s lives. She has created several programs, including the “Ryves Sweeties”, that teaches socialization skills to 10-to-15-year-old girls.

Due to Thomas’ efforts, The Ryves Sweeties participated in manners class followed by dinner at a local restaurant so the girls could put into practice the skills they learned. They also performed at ISU’s spring dance recital.

Thomas said volunteering through AmeriCorp has been a rewarding experience and has given her the “opportunity to work with great children and see them grown and learn to respect and care for me.”

After working with the children at Ryves Hall, Thomas said she now plans to look for a career working with children.

“I want to continue to help children and the community grow, strengthen, and succeed.”

Thomas also participates in the American Humanics program, and served an internship at the national American Humanics office in the summer of 2006.

Her other activities included participating in National Youth Service Day and serving food at the Lighthouse Mission and 14th and Chestnut Community Center. Like James, Thomas also traveled to help Hurricane Katrina victims during the Alternative Spring Break trips in 2006 and 2007.

On campus she has been a member of the Homecoming committee and an assistant at new student orientation for the past three years.

The President's Award for Civic and Community Leadership is presented annually to a junior or senior at ISU who has made community service an integral part of their college experience. The award honors and encourages students who have given generously of their time and energy through participation in community service activities.

Also recognized during ceremonies were Devaney Elementary School and the 14th and Chestnut Community Center, as Community Partner Award winners. ISU staff members Kelly Hall and Roxanne Torrence and the United Way of the Wabash Valley were named Outstanding Service Award winners.

Hall and Torrence, along with the Support Staff Council, organized the largest fundraising event for Habitat for Humanity in 2006 with a bowl-a-thon, raising $5,000. The money went toward construction supplies for the Habitat for Humanity house that ISU sponsored. In addition, they had 150 participants and recruited more than 30 volunteers to work on the house. Torrence is an administrative assistant in the College of Business. Hall is administrative assistant in Public Safety.

Hall, Torrence and the Support Staff Council organized a second bowl-a-thon March 16, raising more than $1,000 for Relay for Life.

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Contact: Nancy Rogers, Center for Public Service and Community Engagement, (812) 237-7900 or nancyrogers@indstate.edu

Writer: Brianna Bullerdick, ISU media relations intern, (812) 237-3773 or bbullerdick@mymail.indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

Laura James and Crystal Thomas are recipients of the 2007 President's Award for Civic and Community Leadership at Indiana State University. Also recognized during ceremonies were Devaney Elementary School and the 14th and Chestnut Community Center, as Community Partner Award winners. ISU staff members Kelly Hall and Roxanne Torrence and the United Way of the Wabash Valley were named Outstanding Service Award winners.

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