DECATUR, Ill. – When Isaiah Watson was a first-year student at Millikin University, he distinctly remembers taking part in the Day of Service – a volunteer work event for students during New Student Welcome Week – and how it made him feel.
Isaiah had just arrived on campus, and even though he was just getting to know his classmates and the city, the Day of Service event connected him with both.
“For the Day of Service my first year, we were out at the James Millikin Homestead and we were replacing some mulch. That moment made me feel like I was really a part of the community,” Isaiah said. “I moved here from three hours away, and I hadn’t been here all that much. I didn’t know what the community had. Allowing us to come and beautify Decatur and make it our own makes you feel like it is a place you want to be.”
Two years later, Isaiah is now a junior Elementary Education major. He served as a Student Experience Ambassador and led a group of first-year students to their service location during Thursday’s ADM/Millikin Day of Service event.
“This year, I had the chance to be at the Salvation Army, where we were packaging up clothes, food and things for the community,” he said. “Now, being a student leader and seeing these new students take part in the Day of Service, it is full circle for me and it just keeps going. Decatur and Millikin are one and one; they are the same.”
This year’s Day of Service was a collaboration between ADM and Millikin, thanks to a grant from the ADM Cares charitable organization, which sustains and strengthens ADM communities by funding organizations that drive meaningful social, economic and environmental change.
“The Day of Service brings Millikin and ADM together to collaborate and give back to the community. It also helps the new students that are coming in and shows the opportunities that are there for them in Decatur and ADM,” ADM Vice President and Corporate Controller Molly Strader Fruit ’99, MBA ’14 said. “It is an amazing opportunity for ADM and I’m proud that ADM is a part of it. I’m a two-time graduate from Millikin and so it is really great to see the collaboration.”
More than 350 Millikin students, staff and ADM employees, many of whom were Millikin alumni, participated in service projects around Decatur. Volunteer locations included Decatur Public Schools, Illinois Children’s Museum, Good Samaritan Inn & Mercy Gardens, Northeast Community Fund, Salvation Army, Beautify Decatur, and the James Millikin Homestead.
“When I was a little kid, my mom would say to me, ‘The gift is in the giving.’ You gave us a gift today and you gave the City of Decatur a gift today,” Millikin President Jim Reynolds said, addressing the students at a lunch get-together at Fairview Park. “I’m proud of that and I appreciate all your good work. It is the first of many opportunities this academic year to connect with Decatur and I want to thank ADM and the ADM Cares Foundation for their support.”
New Student Welcome Week events continue through Sunday, with the Opening Convocation at 7 p.m. in Kirkland Fine Arts Center. Fall semester classes begin Monday, Aug. 21.