Giving back part of the journey to becoming a Bear

Staff Report

PIKEVILLE – “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed,” wrote Poet Maya Angelou. The sentiment carries a simple truth for University of Pikeville students, faculty and staff who logged more than 2,100 volunteer hours as part of a freshman studies service-learning project this fall.

“UPIKE believes that we have been blessed to be a blessing and therefore the community matters,” said Rob Musick, campus chaplain and instructor of religion. “We believe that to be a UPIKE Bear means to serve people.”

Volunteers completed various projects at 30 organizations, including WestCare Homeless Shelter, United Helping Hand, the American Red Cross, Appalachian Pregnancy Care Center, Model City Day Care, Appalachian Hospice, Harvest Children’s Home and several area schools, churches and nursing homes.

Musick said the experience provided opportunities for first-year students to make new connections and bond with peers, faculty and staff outside the classroom. It also empowered students to support community agencies that make an impact daily.

“The service project helped me learn about the culture surrounding UPIKE and showed me that the university helps more than their students,” said Cailee Marcum of Sidney, Ky. “They help the community in any way they can. I realize more than ever how much of an impact UPIKE has on Eastern Kentucky.”

Throughout the year, the campus family takes an active role in community engagement, an extension of the institution’s 126-year mission of service. Many projects, including food and clothing drives, advocacy and awareness campaigns, medical outreach and mission trips are led by student organizations.

“Community service and the Bear servant project are significant because they build community and develop relationships within the larger community,” said Thys Meyer, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology. “Community service is critical to build values and skills for student development. This project was impactful for the future of our UPIKE.”

On Tuesday, Dec. 1, the University of Pikeville will join #GivingTuesday, a global initiative that connects diverse groups of individuals, communities and organizations around the world for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving.

A contrast to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday began as a way to harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners — nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals — to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness, like the university’s freshman studies service-learning project.

UPIKE is proud to be a part of this effort, one that aligns with the institution’s founding mission, vision and values to serve the people of the mountains. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are invited to join in this worldwide movement sharing giving stories on social media using #truebearsgive, #GivingTuesday, @upikebears and @GivingTues.

Consider making a #GivingTuesday gift to support learning opportunities for UPIKE students or remember the university in your estate at

Staff Report

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