WuCrew brings students, faculty and staff together to volunteer across Wichita

William Murphy volunteering at the Lord’s Diner refilling drinks for the guests.

Wichita State graduate student Hien Nguyen grew up in poverty in Vietnam.

“My mom made 50 cents a day,” she said. “My mom sold produce and this was the reason I chose business.”

She is studying for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. She is also a member of WuCrew, a WSU organization of students, faculty and staff members who volunteer their time on personal and group projects in Wichita.

WuCrew members served dinner and dessert, and filled water glasses for hundreds of people at the Lord’s Diner downtown location Friday night. The diner is part of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita.

Ken Griffith is an unemployed U.S. Air Force veteran who enjoys a free meal at the diner four or five times a week.

“It’s air conditioned and there’s some really good food,” he said. “It’s something for people to go out of their way for others.”

Griffith said WuCrew improves the diner staff members’ ability to serve its clients.

“I’d probably be hungry,” he said. “They are really friendly and really nice people.”

Griffith is the kind of person Nguyen likes to help. She came from Vietnam in 1995 without being able to speak English.

“I was born in a third-world country, Vietnam. I feel like I’m giving back to the people,” she said. “I understand what these people are going through.

“I love being able to meet different people and being able to help people.”

It was natural for WSU sophomore Nathan Miller to join WuCrew.

“I was a teenager and so it’s really easy for me to do,” Miller, a Wichita Northwest High School graduate, said. “You get a chance to look at a lot of things that I don’t see everyday. I learn about society. As an economics major, you learn about the other side of success.”

The diner experience gives him ideas about what he wants to do after graduating.

“It gives me a passion for wanting to improve society for everyone and bring the bottom up for everyone,” Miller said.

Lord’s Diner operations manager Larry Hare appreciates WuCrew.

“You say you need something done and it gets done. They need very little supervision,” he said. “I’d have to work a lot harder if they weren’t here.”

Hare said WuCrew members help out about once a month.

WuCrew team leader Maureen Daisey-Morales enjoys the events, too. She is the director of the WSU Testing and Counseling Center.

“I like being a worker bee in the sense of doing stuff, seeing tangible (benefits) and seeing needs being met,” she said.

“You’ll see all ages and groups,” Dasey-Morales said about the diner. “This is a place they can be safe place and be treated well.”

Dasey-Morales said WuCrew started in 2009 and consists of three teams of about 30 people each. Each team works every three months or four times a year.

“It’s an opportunity for students and staff to work together. It’s a good way for students to learn,” she said.

Nguyen said she likes volunteering at the diner the best. She said Friday was the fifth time she worked there.

“This is probably my favorite thing to do,” she said. “I think it’s because I love being around people.”

WuCrew members also work with the Girl Scouts; the Goodwill Adult Literacy Program; Big Brothers, Big Sisters; Success in the Middle, a program at middle schools in Wichita; and Bowling for Kids’ Sake.