We're one of three

February 11 2008
By PAULA PANT Colorado Daily Staff Writer

CU senior Chantel Butterfield spent a huge chunk of her college years volunteering.

She spent a year working with child abuse victims. She collects cans for a food drive every Halloween. She paints art that's donated to refugees relocating to the Denver area.

CU junior Andra Wilkinson's volunteer resume is also a mile long. The 20-year-old honor student has volunteered at a low-income health clinic, tri-chaired a women's advocacy group, worked at a summer camp for children impacted by HIV/AIDS, tutored bilingual children, built a home for a poor family in Mexico, and shaved her head to raise money for pediatric oncology patients.

These women are in the majority: about 13,397 CU-Boulder students are engaged in community service; one of the reasons why last weekend CU-Boulder won the 2007 Presidential Award for General Community Service.

CU-Boulder ranked in the top three out of 530 universities competing for the award. The University of Pennsylvania and Otterbein College of Ohio also won the award, given by the Washington, D.C.-based Corporation for National and Community Service.

CU-Boulder chancellor Bud Peterson received the award, which includes a certificate signed by Pres. George W. Bush, at an educator's meeting in San Diego this past weekend.

The Presidential Award honored several of CU-Boulder's student-driven programs, including the Volunteer Clearing House, an organization that links prospective volunteers to nonprofits that match their interests. The organization has provided 211,146 hours of community service and matched 5,272 students with volunteer opportunities, according to a CU release.

It also cited Engineers without Borders, a national nonprofit founded by a CU-Boulder professor which sends engineers to the developing world to work on sustainable development projects.

The award paid tribute CU-Boulder's Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement, which has funded 21 civic engagement classes and projects since its founding in 2005. It also honored INVST Community Studies, the campuses' academic two year service-learning program, and the Puksta Scholars Program, which grants scholarships to 20 students a year who develop year-long civic engagement programs. It noted CU-Boulder's number three nationwide rank for having the highest number of graduates serve in the U.S. Peace Corps, and recognized Simply the Best!, a campus after-school science and technology program for African-American and Latina middle school girls.

CU-Boulder's commitment to service is growing, said CU senior Brie Sampson, who coordinates the campuses' Alternative Breaks Program. This academic year alone, CU-Boulder has launched two new alternative break opportunities: it spearheaded its Alternative Winter Break program two months ago with a service trip to New Orleans, and its hoping to send 10-15 students to the Dominican Republic this May to volunteer with Orphanage Outreach.

Butterfield said her toughest and most rewarding volunteer experience was at Blue Sky Bridge, a local center for children who have been sexually abused.

Butterfield would play games or watch movies with children as a family advocate met with the child's parents in a nearby room.

“Š obviously that's a traumatic time for them,” Butterfield said. “My role at that time was to make [the children] feel comfortable Š that was really fulfilling.”

Contact Paula Pant about this story at pant@coloradodaily.com, or at (303) 531-4951.

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