The deep chocolate smell of warm brownies followed you everywhere throughout the large, well-decorated house.A crew of people wiped tables and glass surfaces, cleaning before dinner time.The conversation was mostly about Missouri State: “Did you know that building used to have a swimming pool in it?” “That was my favorite class, too — psychology of addictions is phenomenal!”
The chefs in the group had dessert in the oven, and soon would move on to making spaghetti, salad and garlic bread.
The group behind all this cooking and cleaning included MSU alumni, their family members and about a dozen students. They were gathered in Kansas City at two Ronald McDonald House properties, preparing meals for an expected 50 people. Ronald McDonald Houses provide a place for families to stay when their child is hospitalized.
“When you’re dealing with a sick child, the less you have to think about, the better. Because of groups like yours who help us, parents only have to focus on their children,” said Katherine Patterson-Paronto, relief manager for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City.
The meal was part of a Bear Breaks Immersion Trip, days- or weeks-long experiences offered during university breaks. Students travel to a community, volunteer and learn about social issues.
This was the first time part of an immersion trip was opened to alumni.
Alumni will be invited to many similar service opportunities in coming months and years thanks to a collaboration between the office of community involvement and service and the Alumni Association.
“We wanted alumni to be able to get involved in a hands-on way, even if they live outside of Springfield,” said Alex Johnson, director of community involvement and service and a ’12 and ’14 graduate. “These first volunteer slots filled up so quickly that we’re excited about future trips.”
An immersion trip was scheduled for early January for Costa Rica, with a focus on eco-agriculture. A winter trip to Atlanta was expected to focus on HIV/AIDS, and students could meet an alumnus who works for the Centers for Disease Control. In March, trips will be held around the country during Spring Break.
Andrew Garton, ’08, has been an active participant in Missouri State events for years. He said these new service opportunities will add another dimension to his alumni experience.
“Volunteering as an alum is great because it has the socializing part, which is fun, but it goes beyond by helping you live up to the public affairs mission by giving back.”