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ISSUE 117 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 10/3/2003

Doin' It: Elizabeth Cahill, Volunteer Network "Up 'Til Dawn" liason

By Diana Frantz
Variety Editor

Friday, October 3, 2003

St. Olaf’s deep–seated commitment to service is no secret to current students, who encounter opportunities to volunteer through campus organizations on an almost daily basis. Most students are well aware of, if not active participants in, the St. Olaf Volunteer Network.

Misconceptions about this high profile organization, however, continue to persist. According to Elizabeth Cahill ’05, Volunteer Network “Up ‘til Dawn” liaison: “One misconception that many students have is that they have to volunteer all the time.” In fact, most of the over 30 projects currently under the umbrella of the Volunteer Network are quite flexible. Students may simply volunteer when they have free time. They are by no means required to volunteer every week.

As Volunteer Network “Up ‘til Dawn” liaison, however, Cahill must maintain a more rigorous schedule, logging many hours each week. In her current position Cahill acts as a go–between for the Volunteer Network and “Up ‘til Dawn,” functioning as a leader in both programs. She has not always been involved with both Volunteer Network and “Up ‘til Dawn.”

In fact, Cahill, a double major in religion and economics from Mequon, Wis., did not begin as a leader in either “Up ‘til Dawn” or Volunteer Network. Rather she rose through the ranks, beginning as a participant on an “Up ‘til Dawn” team during her first year at St. Olaf. “I came to St. Olaf not knowing what to do. I had been involved in sports in high school. My JC told me about “Up ‘til Dawn,”’ said Cahill.

A passion for helping children was also cited by Cahill as a primary motivation forbecoming involved with “Up ‘til Dawn.” An annual project that raises money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn, “Up ‘til Dawn” seemed a great way for Cahill to help children.

St. Jude conducts cancer research and treats children with cancer free of charge, regardless of patient–family income.. Approximately 100 colleges across the nation, including St. Olaf, participate in “Up ‘til Dawn,” helping St. Jude provide quality care to children with cancer. “It costs $800,000 a day to keep the hospital running,” said Cahill, who recently visited the hospital with St. Olaf “Up ‘til Dawn” Director Travis Rother ’04. Elizabeth found the experience of visiting the hospital incredibly motivating because she was able to see face–to–face the people for whom she has worked so hard during the past few years.

Although leadership positions like Elizabeth Cahill’s certainly require a significant time commitment, she emphasized that participation in “Up ‘til Dawn” is not time– consuming. Those who wish to become involved must form a team of six, attend a Nov. 11 letter–writing event and party hearty at the final event in February. Look for “Up ‘til Dawn” representatives tabling outside the cafeteria for more information. Interested students may also obtain more information during“Up ‘til Dawn” week from Oct. 27 through Oct. 31.

Cahill’s first year as a participant in “Up ‘til Dawn” also marked the year of the program’s inception at St. Olaf. Describing the acheivements of “Up ‘til Dawn” that year, Cahill said, “The program wasn’t as successful as last year because people didn’t know about it.” Incidentally, with more publicity came more success. Last year, with Cahill taking on a bigger role as “Up ‘til Dawn’s” Financial Director, the program raised $19, 000 for St. Jude Hospital. Elizabeth expects this year to be even more successful, since there are already as many teams formed now as there were total teams last year.

This growing organization has kept Cahill extremely busy this fall. Her role as Volunteer Network “Up ‘til Dawn” Liaison has made her a sort of go–to girl. She described her work as, “floating from job to job and helping wherever I am needed.” She attends weekly meetings for both Volunteer Network and “Up ‘til Dawn,” keeping communication lines open between the two organizations.

Although her primary involvement with Volunteer Network is through “Up ‘til Dawn,” Cahill encourages students to explore the many volunteer options offered by the Network. Many campuses across the country run organizations similar to Volunteer Network, but Cahill considers the St. Olaf version unique: “I like our Volunteer Network because we have such a variety of programs. No matter what your interests are you can find something you’ll enjoy.”

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