08/09 Community Service Challenge Inspires
January 01, 2009
Vice President of Student Affairs Patricia Rissmeyer has put forth a challenge to student organizations, clubs, athletic teams and residence halls to do as many community service hours this academic year as possible within their respective groups.
“The Sisters of Notre Dame and Sister Janet are deeply committed to service, so this year I wanted to try something a little bit different that might inspire more students to volunteer,” said Rissmeyer, who is also the Director of the Jean Yawkey Center for Community Leadership. “I think that it will increase the participation levels of students in the community because it’s getting at service in a different way. It’s taking an affiliation group and getting the group together to give service.”
The challenge has been put forth specifically to the Student Government Association (SGA), Athletics and Residence Life, each of whom defined their approach in different ways.
The SGA competition involves three levels of achievement - platinum, gold and silver - based upon the number of service hours each club completes. The silver level requires 250 hours of combined community service by a club, the gold level 500 hours, and the platinum level 1000 hours. This design makes it more of a challenge for the clubs to reach a certain level, rather than to directly compete with other clubs, according to SGA President Amanda Donegan ’10.
“We wanted to be able to put something together that encouraged more community service from all clubs and organizations on campus,” she said. “We wanted it to be something all clubs could succeed in.”
One club that has taken an active role in the challenge is the Emmanuel College Community Outreach (ECCO), a club which promotes harmony and fights inequality. The club volunteers for organizations like the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless and the Greater Boston Food Bank, and helps organize annual events such as Emmanuel’s Annual Day of Service, National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, MS Walk, and Light the Night Walk.
“It is benefiting the community because it is providing services that the community needs,” said Associate Director of Community Service and Service Learning Deirdre Bradley-Turner of the Community Service Challenge. “It is benefiting our students because it is in line with what we hope for them when they leave here, that they would integrate services into their life always. I think it’s a new creative way to approach something that we have always been doing.”
The Athletic Department, meanwhile, is taking a more competitive approach to the challenge, with each team competing against one another to see who can record the most volunteer hours.
“Our teams have always done community service. It’s a big part of the school’s mission but it is a part of the Athletic Department’s mission as well,” said Director of Athletics and Recreation Pamela Roecker. “With the new challenge initiative the competitiveness is what is going to catch on with our athletes.”
So far, the men’s basketball and women’s soccer teams have participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk as a part of their efforts in the challenge. The women’s soccer team also volunteered for the Sports and Society Health Fair and the Charlestown Youth Soccer Program. The women’s basketball and cross country teams have assisted with the Brian Honan Road Race, while the women’s volleyball team has scheduled blood drives. Members of each team also helped out at Family Fit Day in Charlestown on October 8th.
The Office of Residence Life is using a programming model that includes community service in both upper-class and first-year residence halls. In addition, Residence Life has a committee focusing on service and spirituality offering volunteer options for residents to participate in the challenge.
The challenge is meant to inspire students to not only provide more service, but to expose themselves to different types of service opportunities.
“We have a rich tradition of serving the community,” said Bradley-Turner. “It is a part of the mission and vision of the Sisters of Notre Dame. It is a part of the vision of the college that the students will be contributing members of the community. The challenge is integral to what an Emmanuel education is all about.”
Emmanuel College alumni are participating in a volunteer service initiative of their own: 90K... It's All About Time. The Alumni Board-sponsored initiative seeks to celebrate the College's mission in the best way possible: By making a true, positive and effective difference in the world. The Board invites all alumni to help reach a goal of 90,000 hours of volunteer work during the College's 90th anniversary year.