Art Powers the Public Health Student Service Endowment

Imagine the output from a “spare-time” hobby done for relaxation providing the seed money for an endowment. It hardly seems likely that the sale of arts and crafts could make a financial impact large enough to become a permanent source of funding for community service projects and scholarships, but for Cindy Widuck, Lecturer, Social & Behavioral Science, nothing is impossible.

“I’ve always been interested in arts and crafts. I “do” my art during free time as my therapy and began running out of people to give things to—so now I raffle and sell the items and all proceeds go to the endowment,” she explained.

The idea of an endowment grew from observing undergraduates’ challenges to find opportunities, connections and, when in practice situations, discover professional networks.  Called the Public Health Student Service Endowment, the fund is slated to become a major source of scholarships and project funding by the end of 2017, if Cindy has her way. In fact, anyone can donate to the endowment through payroll deduction, matching gifts programs, or bequests Link to donation site.

Until the endowment grows, Cindy has supported student endeavors by setting up a Go Fund Me page and by digging into her own pocketbook. Students requesting funds must propose an evidence-based, sustainable project with a community partner. All proposals are reviewed.

The small grants awarded to students have made big differences in the communities around Kent’s campus. Along with the Office of Experiential Education and Civic Engagement, the Community Based Practice class coordinated a canned food drive with organizations around campus to collect 3,000 pounds of food for Kent State Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, coordinated an advocacy letter writing event, a pot-luck dinner, and community vigil. Students interested in impacting the lives of memory-impaired adults at a local day center started the Sound of Music, a project that compiled personalized play lists for center participants. The project resulted in a job offer for a student. And, in 2016, Samantha Wilson, ’16, BSPH, received a grant for $150 to conduct a healthy relationship intervention pilot program. The success of this project helped her secure a full scholarship to graduate school in Tennessee where she also has a two-year contract in local high schools implementing her healthy relationship program.

Cindy’s handiness and foresight are the start of something big for undergraduates in the College of Public Health and the students are well aware of the difference it has made already. “Cindy’s class, the grant and the mandatory community service are what my employers looked at. These components were integral to being selected for my job,” said Samantha.

POSTED: Thursday, April 6, 2017 - 12:12pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 20, 2020 - 1:54pm