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Freshman and student group earn STAR Awards

May 13, 2008

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University freshman Jackie Luedtke and the student initiative Drive Safe Kalamazoo recently received 2008 Sharing Time and Resources Awards, sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Greater Kalamazoo and the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Luedtke, a first-year student from Frankfort, Mich., won the College Individual Award for her volunteerism, including working on disaster recovery in 2004. A double major in organizational communications and Spanish and member of the Lee Honors College, Luedtke spent eight months between high school and college in Kiln, Miss., volunteering with AmeriCorps' National Civilian Community Corps to construct homes for people living in trailers after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Her volunteerism also extends to her work in March and April of 2007 when she participated in an AmeriCorps NCCC environmental project in Panther Creek State Park in Tennessee. There she cleared brush, cleaned lakesides and performed other environmentally friendly tasks.

Since returning to Michigan and enrolling in WMU, she has found time to volunteer for the Oakwood Neighborhood Association, the WMU Campus Classic race/walk and Habitat for Humanity. Luedtke estimated she spent about 1,4000 hours volunteering in 2007.

Another STAR Award recipient, WMU student volunteer group Drive Safe Kalamazoo, was honored with the College Volunteer Group Award. The organization includes about 100 WMU student volunteers who donated 775 hours of their time in 2007.

Every Thursday and Saturday at 11 p.m., members start taking calls from WMU students who need a ride home from a party. The group has facilitated the safe passage of nearly 35,000 students, has lowered the number of drunken-driving arrests among students and is one of just seven university groups like it in the country.

This school year, the organization moved into a new headquarters, overhauled its phones and computers, integrated a GPS systems into its cars, continued to train volunteers and worked to receive a $20,000 grant from the Kalamazoo Foundation.

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

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