Celebration of Serivce

Wild Hope Center for Vocation | Student Essay/Video Contest

Calling All Lutes to Serve

The Wild Hope Center invited current students to write an essay or create a video on the calling to “serve,” a core element of PLU’s mission. The current global pandemic presents a unique context with which to live this mission. How does one serve the neighbor or the greater good during an unprecedented time like this? Especially when normal routines have been so disrupted? How does one do so when experiencing their own grief and loss? Students’ submissions discussed their calling to serve others, their communities, and the earth, especially during times of uncertainty. They shared their perspective on how one’s capacity to serve expands or contracts during a time of massive community closure. Wild Hope extends much appreciation to all the students who took the time to reflect on their calling through their submissions and is excited to announce the contest winners as follows.

Wild Hope winners: 1st Sophia Barro, 2nd Matthew Horton

Service Awards

Each year CCES has the honor of issuing four awards recognizing individuals and organizations for their contributions and service to the community. We had many eligible nominations, and thank those who took time to recognize those doing incredible work for the greater good. This year are excited to announce and celebrate the dedication of the following recipients.

Student Service Organization Award

Big Buddies

This award is given to a PLU student service organization that has shown a sustained commitment to serving others in the local community. The organization’s vision reflects the good of the community, using leadership skills to empower others.

Big Buddies has a long standing student led partnership with James Sales Elementary School. PLU students provide the elementary students with adult mentors and a structured after school program in order to facilitate both the academic and socio-developmental success of the Little Buddies. Big Buddies are a positive adult role model for the students, and the program itself provides a structured after-school time period where students are engaged in constructive, positive activities. Mentors are assigned to one student, and while the program takes place in a group setting, the time mentors spend with their students is focused one-on-one. This time offers crucial supplemental support to students who may not otherwise receive it. We are pleased to recognize Big Buddies for their commitment to the community with the 2020 Student Service Organization Award.

Ron Vignec Community Partner Award

Parkland Safe Streets

This award recognizes an organization with an outstanding commitment to serving our community through sustained partnerships, educating the public, and empowering others to address community concerns and needs.

Whether it is a fun community event or a serious discussion forum, Parkland Safe Streets will be there. The mission of Safe Streets is to “Unite and inspire neighbors, youth, and businesses to build safe, healthy, thriving communities.” Parkland Safe Streets is constantly advocating for resources for the neighborhood and educating about resources that are active in Parkland. The group includes community members involved in many different facets of the area, often serving on multiple committees which helps connect people and represent various needs. It is our privilege to honor Parkland Safe Streets with the 2020 Ron Vignec Community Partner Award.

David T. Alger Award

Created in 2009, this award honors Reverend Alger for his deep connections with Associated Ministries, Pacific Lutheran University and the Pierce County community. More specifically this award acknowledges members of the PLU community who have exemplified an extraordinary commitment to service, sustained engagement and collaborative leadership with agencies, programs and community leaders that serve the public good. Two individuals are honored each year with this exceptional award, one student and one faculty or staff member.

Lilly Bulski | Student Recipient

Peer nominator Grace Steele had this to say about Lilly, “She works tirelessly to maintain a fully stocked and accessible food pantry for Parkland community members and PLU students no matter the circumstances. She uses her leadership skills and abilities to advocate for the food pantry in ways that get other people involved and active in her cause, she also continues to envision the ways in which the program can grow and become better. Such as making the food pantry look more like a store and normalized for those who use it. The links between the food pantry and those who use it connects students as well as community members and faculty this makes connections and links our university with the nearby communities.” Congratulations to Lilly for being the 2020 David T. Alger student recipient.

Rev. Jen Rude | Faculty/Staff Recipient

As student nominator, Elizabeth Kulus, put it, “Pastor Jen seeks to connect the PLU community with each other, as well as reach out to our local and world communities through meaningful connections.” Taking on more than her role requires of her, Pastor Jen exemplifies what it means to build bridges between the PLU and greater community. She organizes visits to the Living Stones Prison Worship community each semester for students to attend and worship alongside inmates, many of whom do not get a lot of outside visitors. In addition, helps with programming for the Friday Interfaith Prayers for the World gathering that happen in Red Square. We are pleased to award Pastor Jen with the 2020 David T. Alger Award for Faculty/Staff.

With a fresh coat of paint and bright gold bulletin boards, CCES hit the ground running back in September. The image above, a replica of one of those boards in our office, is full of student led programing aimed at positively impacting our community. Highlights from the past year include launching the Around the Sound series coordinated by our three Local Ambassadors, Elizabeth Kulus, Isabel LaRue, and Madison Willis. And while programming for the Spring came to a sudden halt, the work of our dedicated staff did not. Quickly switching gears in the midst of uncertainty, the Big Buddies transformed their curriculum into online content, America Reads/Counts Tutors created worksheets paired with Storyline Online read alouds, and they found ways to continue to support the community from afar. Click the bars below  to learn more progam specifics about what we have accomplished this year.

America Reads/America Counts is a nationwide initiative that began in 1996 with the aim of helping to ensure that more children are able to read independently by the end of third grade. Congress approved the use of federal work-study funds to support tutoring by college and university students in local schools. Even though the initial focus was to support students in grades K-3, the program has expanded to include older students and math as well. Currently PLU serves three schools in two school districts and provided 364 hours of service in classrooms in the Fall of 2019 to more than 10 classrooms, and over 200 individual students. Tutors consisted of PLU students across a variety of majors and intended career paths, and supported students in Kindergarten through 5th grade.

With a new strategic approach, the Centers’ Coalition Chocolate Trail kicked off the year stronger than ever. With the theme Charlie and the Chocolate Factory selected by a student committee, the Centers rallied together to encourage student participation by marking off all the Center stops on factory maps. CCES saw 80 students come through our office, a striking difference from 10 in 2018. Not only did we get to share what CCES is all about and the work we do in the community, we enjoyed sharing specialty chocolate dessert bars from local small business The Art of Crunch and a DIY iced mocha bar.

This year has been an exciting year of growth for PLU’s Habitat chapter. Ethan Marshman took the reins as club president and his passion for the work encouraged many lutes to join! Together, Ethan and Local Ambassador, Isabel LaRue worked to build stronger bonds between Habitat for Humanity and CCES. As the advising body of the club, CCES offered support in developing goals for the year and beyond. The many builds this year were well attended and fun, and the club is looking forward to an eventful next year with a new leadership team excited to be planning a build trip for Spring!

CCES once again hosted 5th graders from four elementary schools from Franklin Pierce School District in the Fall and Keithley Middle School 7th Graders in the Spring. Over 600 students came to campus over the course of 4 days for grade level appropriate workshops, lunch, and tours presented by students, staff, and faculty. We had representatives from 15+ areas of campus involved in building connections through this unique learning opportunity. As part of the CCES Education Initiative to connect local K-8 youth with college students through meaningful relationships and learning, visit days allow students to see the possibilities beyond their k-12 education. EDUC 205 and students from across campus made up the 70+ volunteers, serving as tour guides and lunch room monitors to ensure the visit days offered multiple opportunities for individual conversations. These Visit Days are truly a campus wide effort and we thank everyone who plays a part in making them happen.

Big Buddies is a long-standing after-school mentoring program at James Sales Elementary. It serves 15-20 at-risk elementary school students in after school enrichment lead by PLU students, known as Big Buddies. This year, James brought his background in curriculum development to this program, by thoughtfully creating and implementing a pilot program model into Big Buddies. This model focused on college-bound character skills that currently exist in the school’s curriculum. These include weekly themes such as Perseverance, Reliability, and Adaptability, among others. The enrichment program is built around these themes, and includes thoughtful questions, interactive games & crafts, and time to complete homework from the school day. In our fall curriculum, Big Buddies worked over 1000 hours collectively supporting local students. Spring brought along unexpected remote work and the Big Buddies continued to serve by creating online content around the weekly theme. The goal for this program is to continue to improve and adapt this curriculum in coming years to better serve students in our community and increase educational outcomes and awareness of post-secondary options in the local district.

This year Club Keithley was under the skilled leadership of Ariana Schieber in the Fall and Valeria Escobar in the Spring. Club Keithley has three ways for students to volunteer, as a mentor, as classroom support, and with the after school program CHAMPS. With the start of Fall Semester a number of returning volunteers were back over at Keithley Middle School with the addition of a new members working with students and having a good time! 

A new position to CCES this year, seniors Elizabeth Kulus, Isabel LaRue, and Madison Willis provided marketing and programing support for ongoing CCES programs. From Chocolate Trail, 5th and 7th Grade Visit Days, to Winterfest, and beyond, they stepped up and showed up as leaders truly invested serving the community.

In addition, they launched the CCES Around the Sound series aimed at providing students the opportunity to engage in various aspects of the 253. Exploring local favorites, attending community education programs, and partnering with service organizations, they took 48 students on trips utilizing the CCES van and public transportation. For the Local Ambassadors, these excursions offer a chance to  develop programs within aspects of the community they are passionate about. The feedback from students has been extremely positive and informative for selecting future excursions. One student said “Thank you for taking me, this was a part of Tacoma I’ve been waiting to see,” about the trip to the Tacoma Night Market. Another took the time to send an email about the Point Defiance Trash Pick Up saying, “I really appreciated this opportunity and felt great doing it…I would absolutely love to do this event again at Point Defiance or even a different location. It was a lot of fun, super rewarding and great for our community. I look forward to another event like this!” And we also look forward to when we can once again be together.  Thank you to Elizabeth, Isabel, and Madison for leaning into and being flexible in shaping the Local Ambassador role. Congratulations on completing your PLU academic career!

An annual community event which provides toys, coats, and resource connections to low-income families in Franklin Pierce Schools, Winterfest 2019 was better than ever. CCES plays a significant role in planning, fundraising, volunteer recruitment, and production of Winterfest each year. For many it is an event that takes place on a Saturday in December. For CCES, the leadership team made up of representatives from organizations across the community, and the families who attend, Winterfest is on the mind year round.  This year we raised $12,000 and thousands more from in-kind donations, all of which goes directly to Winterfest. 400+ volunteers helped meet needs of the 251 families who attended Winterfest 2019. 855 kids received new coats and gifts during the holiday season. This event truly brings out the best of what we can do when we all work together and care for one another. As we look towards the 30th Annual Winterfest on December 12, 2020, we know the need will be greater than ever. For those who are able, we hope you will join us in supporting our neighbors this holiday season by contributing to Winterfest. Visit plu.edu/winterfest for more information about making a donation or getting involved.

Special thanks to the Winterfest Leadership Team: 


Senior Send-Off

Click image to enlarge. Click here for video version.

A Special Thanks to...

A special thanks to…

Rev. David Alger
Tamara Williams
Franklin Pierce Schools
PLU Office of Advancement
PLU Office of the Provost
PLU Office of Student Financial Services
Wild Hope Center for Vocation
Washington Campus Compact
and YOU for joining us in this celebration!

CCES Staff 19-20 Signing Off