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Pieces of Eight

Human Resources employees stuff food bags for the Food Education Distribution Center in Greenville as part of a staff development activity. Pictured from left to right are Dianne Henderson, Patricia Baldwin, Lee Ann Goff, Gwen Green and Tina Hyman. (Photo by Joy Holster)

Employees Play Cards Right with Volunteer Efforts

In coordination with the Recognition and Rewards Committee of the ECU Staff Senate, the Pieces of Eight series honoring exceptional ECU staff recognizes the Department of Human Resources.

By Judy Currin

“Are you Hearts or Diamonds, Clubs or Spades?”

Visitors to ECU’s Department of Human Resources might overhear these words and wonder if they have stumbled onto a lively game of Bridge.

The department’s employees would not be discussing a card game, however. Instead, they would be referring to the names of four employee groups that are challenged on a rotating basis to plan and execute a unique staff development activity. Members of all four groups participate in the activity during quarterly meetings with Human Resources Associate Vice Chancellor John Toller and Assistant Vice Chancellor Jim Mullen.

“The activity encourages teamwork,” Mullen said, while helping employees to get to know one another in a positive, informal environment.

September’s challenge fell to the Hearts members, who elected to engage all the departmental employees in community service activities.

Following a business meeting held Sept. 22, departmental employees enjoyed comments from Jason Denius, director of the ECU Volunteer and Service Learning Center. He spoke about the center and explained the vast number of volunteer opportunities available to ECU faculty and staff.

Then the employees headed out to complete their service work. Half of the group traveled to South Greenville Church of Christ, where they helped ECU student Andrea Starkie prepare bags of food items for distribution to Greenville’s needy residents. The volunteers set up an assembly line to fill 40 bags with food items and approximately 50 bags with essentials for families with infants.

A sociology major, Starkie founded the Food Education Distribution Center at the church. “People line up around the block,” Starkie said, to “shop” with fake money they are given to buy items in the distribution center. Before they can shop, they must listen to a brief session on how to meet a family’s nutritional needs.

Another group traveled to Landmark Drive in Greenville for work with the North Carolina Branch of Give2-theTroops. There the volunteers sorted donations and bagged them in Ziploc bags for shipping. They also packed care packages and wrote letters of support for deployed troops.

Personnel analyst Michelle Morris, a Hearts group member, particularly enjoyed working with Give2theTroops.

“The most important lesson I learned,” Morris said, “was that any amount of time and resources can help.

“It makes you feel good to know that whatever amount of time you give can make a positive difference in your community.”

Other members of the Hearts group include Christopher Turner, Becky Creech, Beverly Smith Savage, Robin M. McKinnon-Wilkins, Connie Getsinger, Jessica Wallace, Teresa Shook and Robyn Galloway.

Galloway said the group’s efforts were a success. She referred to an article she had read entitled, “Volunteer! It’s Good for your Health,” by Kathy Hoff, director of Volunteer Services for Truman Medicine Center Lakewood in Kansas City, Mo. Hoff said that “helping others benefits more than just the people receiving the assistance.

“Research confirms that volunteers derive physical, mental and social benefits from their efforts,” Hoff said.

And that is probably more than can be said for playing a competitive game of cards.

This page originally appeared in the Oct. 6, 2006 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at