By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

News: Central students get involved


The Center for Leadership and Community Engagement gives Central students the opportunity to get involved in the Ellensburg community.

“We see that it is essential for students to get engaged and get practical experience in and out of the classroom,” Manuel Rodriguez, director of the CLCE, said.

According to Rodriguez, this is one of the driving forces behind the center’s philosophy.

Through various programs, students at Central are offered the chance to get their hands dirty and make a tangible difference.

By partnering with various organizations around town, such as the Youth Center, Fish and Wildlife, the FISH food bank and various other community organizations, students have the ability to get involved and give back to their community.

There are other benefits as well, according to Rodriguez.

“It’s the networking; it’s enhancing their resume,” Rodriguez said.

In addition, it offers students the ability to make connections with various non-profits, government and community organizations, not only in Ellensburg but in the surrounding area.

Kim Jellison, Program Manager for the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement, says that there are various programs and activities occurring year-round.

One of the upcoming events she’s excited about is an annual clean-up of the Yakima River, roughly coinciding with Earth Day, on April 19.

She says that there are usually around 120 volunteers which participate.

Other events include Unheard Voices, and upcoming fundraising event on May 15th at Alder Street Park for the Kittitas Search and Rescue team. The event will feature musicians from the college and Ellensburg communities.

“We want [students] to get involved and to give back to their community,” Jellison stated, mirroring Rodriquez’s sentiments.

On the other side of the campus-community relationship are people like David Hurn, Youth Center and athletics programs coordinator for the Ellensburg Youth Center.

Located at 406 E Capitol, the center serves around 25-35 kids daily.

Hurn graduated from Central and has been working at the youth center since 2008.

“You can talk to everyone downstairs. All of them are related to Central,” Hurn said, referencing the staff.

Hurn said that various Central student organizations come in to help regularly, and their efforts are appreciated by the community organizations.

For example, the Nutrition Club comes in twice a month to help out, as does SALT and various other organizations and individuals.

“Some people do it because it’s required of them, but a lot continue to do it because they want to,” Hurn said.

Hurn believes that the youth center is an invaluable resource within the Ellensburg community.

“Essentially, our entire goal is to offer a safe, positive place for kids to belong,” Hurn said.

Getting involved may not be as daunting as it may sound. College is busy for everyone, between assignments, tests, social obligations and just some well needed rest. Sometimes the thought of giving up even more time may seem overwhelming to a full time student.

These problems may not disappear after college, though. Perhaps now is the time to begin engaging in the community, and developing skills that are and will be necessary now and in the future.

The Center for Leadership and Community Engagement is always available for interested students to come and get a feel for different areas where they could lend a hand.

With over ten-thousand students at Central, the possibility for communal and personal improvement is nearly unlimited, especially if all students helped to pitch in.

“We want to see everyone get involved,” Rodriguez said.

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