A Commitment to Service

July 6, 2017

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By Ginny Painter

The phrase “actions speak louder than words” comes to mind when considering the community service projects undertaken in Huntington, WV, by Marshall University’s senior leadership team over the past year.

From the beginning of Dr. Jerome Gilbert’s presidency at Marshall, there has been a commitment that the university will reach out to the local community, particularly the Fairfield neighborhood just south of the campus.

Photos courtesy of Marshall University Office of University Communications

“It is clear that President Gilbert wants people to know we care about them as neighbors, and there is no better way than getting out and doing something to show you care,” says Brandi Jacobs-Jones, Marshall’s senior vice president for operations and chief of staff.

In spring 2016, the university’s leadership team spent an afternoon working with Habitat for Humanity to help construct a new house on Tenth Avenue. Most of the activity that day was carpentry work, including erecting walls and building a porch. In fall 2016, the team spent an afternoon helping clean up the recreational facility in Marcum Terrace, a housing project on the east side of Huntington. Tasks that day included moving exercise equipment and washing floors and walls in a weight-lifting area of the gym.

This past spring, administrators spent an afternoon painting the exterior of the Habitat for Humanity warehouse in Fairfield. In each of the projects, the president and other senior administrators spent approximately four hours volunteering, taking personal leave time from the university to do so.

“The first part of making an impact is showing up,” says Gilbert. “We had people with various levels of skill, but everyone gave up personal leave time, pitched in and enjoyed the work. The comradery was great, and we felt like we were doing something worthwhile.”

Volunteerism at Marshall is not a new thing. The university’s Marshall Medical Outreach mobile unit has been helping meet the medical needs of Huntington’s homeless community for six years, setting up once a month in the parking lot of Trinity Episcopal Church. This effort is led by medical students and has been nationally recognized as a model program.

Since 1837, Marshall University has been making a difference in the lives of people of the region and throughout West Virginia. The volunteer efforts by the senior leadership team over the past year have been just one small example.

“We want to continue to send the message that the Marshall family cares about its community and will do everything in its power to better the places in which we—and our students—live and work,” says Gilbert.

 

About the Author

Ginny Painter has nearly 30 years of experience in higher education and government communications, marketing and administration, including previous work at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, University of Charleston and Marshall University Research Corporation. She also has served as communications director and deputy commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and in communications roles for the state affiliate of the American Lung Association and the Black Diamond Girl Scout Council. As senior vice president of communications and marketing for Marshall University, she is responsible for the university’s overall communications, media and public relations, research-based messaging, marketing and branding activities. Painter serves on the boards of directors of the West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust and TechConnect West Virginia. A native of St. Albans, she holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Marshall University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Charleston.

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