Volunteer group teams up with C.T.F. 

Abbey Whittington, Entertainment Editor

The Civic Engagement and Volunteerism office has teamed up with the non-profit organization Charleston Transitional Facility in order to put on activities with individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Individuals from the C.T.F. have been coming to the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union to have lunch followed by an activity with the volunteer group from 11:30 p.m. to noon on Thursdays. This will be the group’s fourth week of meeting together.

Elizabeth Gillespie, interim director of the Civic Engagement & Volunteerism office, said she met with a member of C.T.F.’s leadership team and talked about wanting to help create a bright spot for the individuals who are at C.T.F. as well as provide them a different activity to participate in.

“In our office we are trying to engage with students to volunteer and give them a chance to be in a leadership situation and kind of plan and own a project,” Gillespie said. “Our idea was that each of the six weeks that they are here, a different student group would be responsible for coming up with a 30 minute activity so that it’s different each week.”

Gillespie said if the weather is nice on Thursday they will be walking around the quad for 20 minutes to enjoy the spring weather, and then move on to their activity, which will end at 1 p.m.

“We are always looking for new opportunities to partner with local organizations and help address a need that they have,” Gillespie said.

In the past weeks, the volunteer group had the Special Olympic Young Athletes’ Coaches, another program offered by the Volunteer office, come in and run activities with individuals from C.T.F. including throwing activities like tossing a baseball around and group activities like playing bingo together.

This week, a group of students from the kinesiology and sport studies programs will be joining the volunteer members and individuals from C.T.F. to participate in sports related activities.

Gillespie said the Volunteer office has also come up with a one-on-one buddy system for Thursday’s activities so students can help people from C.T.F with the games they play.

For next week, they will be teaming up with members of the music department to play instruments.

“I’m hopeful that by coming to campus they will have more confidence in new situations, they’ll be more comfortable engaging with people they don’t know because they’ve had an experience here on campus where they’re celebrated, supported and welcomed,” Gillespie said.

Gretchen Butterfield, a foreign languages and pre-occupational therapy double major, works as an undergraduate assistant in the Volunteer office and is heavily involved with volunteer work in the service group. She agreed with the Volunteer office’s program and encourages others to engage with the visitors from C.T.F.

“I think there is a need for people to get involved with kids or adults with special needs in any community, and there are benefits of these kids or adults getting integrated with other people,” Butterfield said. “It is cool because there is that bond there where it’s like these people care about you and vice versa. Students can see there’s more than just one sort of friendship you can have.”

Butterfield started as a pre-med major, but after getting involved with different volunteer programs she decided she wanted to go into a profession that would help people with disabilities reintegrate into society decided instead of becoming a doctor.

“It is really nice to have the opportunity to volunteer and get my feet wet before I actually go into my field,” Butterfield said.

Any students interested in participating in activities and partnering with people from C.T.F. can sign up at eiu.edu/volunteer.


Abbey Whittington can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]