This past Homecoming, Joe and Phyllis Russell led an enthusiastic staff of drivers shuttled alumni, staff, and students to homecoming events through the IWU golf cart shuttling service. For over thirty years, the Russell’s have been an intricate part of volunteering at IWU projects and events, striving to create a pleasant visit experience for all guests at Indiana Wesleyan University events. “The vision of adding a golf cart shuttle service was theirs (Joe and Phyllis),” says Rick Carder, Director of Alumni and Church Engagement. “As we were having lunch they mentioned how large the campus has grown since they were students in the 1950’s” offers Carder.
Annually, IWU alumni had been travelling to the school for the Scholarship Luncheon honoring the donors of private academic scholarships. Many of the donors honored at this luncheon were between seventy and ninety years old, however, and walking from the limited parking to the student center proved a challenge for them. Noticing this need, Russell proposed the golf cart taxi service, a free means of transportation for elderly and disabled visitors to IWU.
In the past few years, the golf carts have ferried people for homecoming, grandparents’ day, and many IWU athletic events. This program is entirely staffed by volunteers; however Russell mentioned that finding drivers is never a problem. “We’ve been blessed, really, in having the volunteers we need,” Russell commented. “Once they start driving for us, they’re hooked on it.”
Due to rain, the shuttle service was a little less in demand this past weekend for homecoming, but the staff worked hard to service anyone who might need a ride, even taking trips from the town houses to the student center ferrying students. “Everyone really seemed to enjoy the experience, and although our numbers were less, the experience was still high quality,” stated Russell.
The alumni office helps with some of the administrative support for the golf cart ministry. Carder says that, “I have the joy of working with our volunteer leadership. Each year we make small adjustments to the schedule but mostly I just coordinate their needs.” The golf cart shuttle service stared in 2007. That year the team assembled for Homecoming as well as Grandparents Day and the Track and Field NAIA Nationals. “It was several big events with long hours, generally starting before 6 AM and finishing sometime after 9 PM” says Carder. This year the team expanded to include Brent Miller, an alum and local pastor of Southside Wesleyan Church. Brent took over much of the recruitment and managing of the team. “Brent has been a real asset to our team” Carder adds. Brent brought new drivers and coordinated his new role with the Russell’s as he helped lead this ministry.
Russell and his crew will be in service for a second time; Grandparent’s Day is a special day where students invite their grandparents to come to campus for a visit day. We often have over 900 guests register to attend. “This weekend, all our guests are in that sixty to seventy-year-old range,” Russell mentioned, “We will really be popping.”
Russell and his team of volunteers strives to make visiting IWU a positive and enjoyable experience by serving alumni through attending to transportation needs and building relationships with passengers along the way. Joe has nick named the shuttle cart ministry as “E-Z Go get-you-there!”
Written by Katherine Arch, Story Teller for Alumni Relations. Katherine Arch is a Senior English major at Indiana Wesleyan, and a member of the Track and Cross Country teams. She is passionate about sharing people’s stories and celebrating their unique divine potential in written form.