WMU News

Broncos shine at STAR Awards

May 6, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's football team and a WMU student from Troy, Mich., were among the 10 individuals and groups recognized for their community service at the 2003 STAR Awards breakfast, held April 30 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo.

Junior Nina Mayra received the 2003 College Volunteer award, and the Bronco football team was selected as the year's top College Volunteer Group. The annual STAR Awards are presented by the Volunteer Center of Greater Kalamazoo and the Kalamazoo Gazette. Now in its 16th year, STAR--Sharing Time and Resources--honors volunteer community service.

WMU alumna Betty Wolbers, a retired teacher from Portage (Mich.) Public Schools, was also among this year's award recipients. Wolbers, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees from WMU in the 1950s, was recognized as the outstanding Senior Volunteer for her work with the Ladies Library Association and Chapel Hill United Methodist Church.

Mayra was recognized for her work with United Campus Ministry and as a volunteer with Kalamazoo County's Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children program. Mayra gave about 400 hours of her time to United Campus Ministries in 2002, including volunteer service in soup kitchens and building shelters in several parts of the United States and Mexico.

Her volunteer service with Court Appointed Special Advocates began last fall, and Mayra, who plans to study law following graduation from WMU, says she finds the work particularly interesting.

"We spend time with children, listen to them, and then it's our job to represent the children's interests in court," says Mayra.

A political science major, with emphasis in public law, Mayra expects to graduate in April 2004. She is the daughter of Lisa and Mike Mayra of Troy.

WMU's football team was honored for its work with the Kalamazoo Valley Chapter of Habitat for Humanity and other service projects. Football players spent three months last summer repairing a house in the Hawley neighborhood so that it could be suitable for living again. The team worked in two shifts twice a week until the project was completed in July.

Coach Gary Darnell's squad also continued its hospital visitation program last fall, visiting the children's ward at Bronson Methodist Hospital on Fridays of home games. Coordinated by Darnell's wife, Sandra, groups of Bronco players took part in games and activities with the young patients. The team also recently held a charitable car wash, with donations going to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kalamazoo. In three years of conducting the event, the team has raised $1,500.

"The STAR Award is a great honor for our program, but we certainly don't view it as a competition," said Darnell. "We take part in these activities because it's the right thing to do."

The football team is the second WMU athletic squad to receive a STAR Award. The hockey team was honored in 1989 for its work with the Kalamazoo Domestic Assault Program and Michigan Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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