Sycamore Community Work helps students gain non-profit work experience

Indiana State University student Elijah Merriman enjoys working with kids at the Terre Haute Boys & Girls Club, a job he got a year and a half ago with the help of the Sycamore Community Work program.

 During the fall 2020 semester — amidst the pandemic — his duties not only included serving dinner but also assisting local kids with remote learning, which was a much-needed help for kids who have no internet access at home or no one there to help with schoolwork.

 Sycamore Community Work, a program by the Center for Community Engagement, places students with a non-profit organization for student employment. It enables students to supplement their income and gain more experience.

For Merriman, a senior exercise science major from Attica, Indiana, it was also about making a difference in the community. “My time at Indiana State [and his work at the Club are] coming to an end,” he said. “It’s sad thinking about leaving Boys & Girls Club because I’ve made such a connection with the kids and feel like I’ve made a difference in their lives.”

Merriman is no longer working at the Boys & Girls Club this semester because he is completing an internship, but he is grateful for the personal and professional growth his experiences have brought.

Launched in the fall of 2017, Sycamore Community Work is one of the ways ISU is impacting the local community and maintaining relationships with community partners. Students who participate in the program receive a higher hourly rate and additional support. The University and agency split the student’s wage.

Despite the pandemic, students have been working at nonprofit agencies this academic year including United Way of the Wabash Valley; 14th and Chestnut Community Center; Vigo County YMCA; Minority Health Coalition of Vigo County; Chances and Services for Youth, and Happiness Bag, Inc.