Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany kicked off its fifth year this past Saturday and proved to be a huge success, as approximately 300 student volunteers from Alfred State, Alfred University, and Houghton College came together to engage in community service projects throughout Allegany County.
Students from all three institutions gathered at their respective colleges and were transported to pre-arranged service locations. At sites throughout much of Allegany County, students worked on projects ranging from outdoor activities such fall cleaning, as well as indoor projects such as preparing meals, assembling aid packages, and painting. Overall, 300 volunteers served in 31 projects in 10 different communities.
Alfred State Student Senate President Katherine Holmok, a business administration major from Prattsville, spoke to the important role that the local communities play in students’ lives, and why it is so important to give back.
“Students recognize that the communities in which their colleges reside will be responsible for some of the fondest memories and greatest times of their lives,” she said. “As Student Senate president, I see examples every day of how much our students love Alfred, and how eager they are to give back to the communities that are nurturing them. Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany provides a wonderful opportunity for students around the county to demonstrate how much we care on a larger and more visible scale.”
Houghton College Alumni and Community Engagement Director Phyllis Gaerte noted, “What excites me the most when I drive around to check in on students at the different community project sites, is the great conversation and relationship building that happens between students who are serving a common purpose and with the community partner that they are working alongside of. There is no better way to get to know your neighbors.”
Five years ago, a group from Leadership Allegany organized the inaugural service day. The vision of this event has been to build relationships between students and community members, enhance student exposure to the county beyond the confines of the campus, and deliver meaningful help to public and non-profit organizations.
Over the past four years, more than 1,700 students have participated, investing over 10,200 hours of service to Allegany County communities during just this annual day of service alone. This day is scheduled each year on Make A Difference Day - the largest single national day of community service. And locally, the Allegany County Board of Legislators again issued a proclamation making Oct. 22 Make A Difference Day in the county and recognizing the service of volunteers.
Corey Fecteau, service learning coordinator for Alfred University, believes that ”volunteering on Make A Difference Day helps our students better understand Allegany County, their home-away-from-home while they are attending college.” As a result of this event, “Students are prepared to engage meaningfully with their current and future communities.”
The impact of Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany goes far beyond a single day, however. For students, it is a way to illustrate and develop a culture and lifestyle of community service, which they will hopefully carry with them throughout their tenure as students and into their lives post-education. For local communities, it enables important tasks, projects, and events to get a jump-start, make significant progress, or come to fruition.
The three institutions rely on donations to help pay for necessary supplies, T-shirts, and transportation for the day of service. This year, financial and in-kind support was graciously provided by Otis Eastern Service, Leadership Allegany, The Greater Allegany Chamber of Commerce, Allegany County Area Foundation, Auxiliary Campus Enterprises and Services (ACES), Cuba Fillmore Fisher’s Pharmacies, Allegany County United Way, Swain Ski Resort, and Alfred Sports Center.
For more information about the Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany day of service, please visit www.celebrateallegany.com.
For the second straight year, NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the leading voice for the student affairs profession, has named Alfred State a Lead Advisory Institution in its national initiative on civic learning and democratic engagement.
This year, Alfred State will be part of a group of nearly 100 institutions dedicated to promoting civic learning and democratic engagement as a core function of the Division of Student Affairs. The Lead Initiative offers unique professional development opportunities, targeted resources, networking, and recognition for its Lead Institutions.
The college has participated in NASPA’s Lead Initiative since 2012, but was named a Lead Advisory Institution for the first time last year. In this role, Alfred State’s responsibilities include mentoring other Lead Institutions and helping NASPA staff create and execute strategy, publications, and online learning content for the initiative moving forward.
Gregory Sammons, Alfred State vice president for Student Affairs, said Alfred State is proud to again be recognized by NASPA as a Lead Advisory Institution, and that the college “considers it the highest compliment to our students.”
“The recognition illustrates that our students learn not only about social issues,” Sammons said, “but also how to apply knowledge in order to actively engage these challenges and directly be a part of the solutions in our communities.”
By combining real-world learning situations with civic engagement opportunities, Alfred State students make significant contributions to communities around the world and are frequently among the first to lend their skills and knowledge to those in need. Last year, Alfred State students contributed 80,000 hours of service, civic leadership, and workforce-ready knowledge to communities in need.
To learn more about NASPA’s Lead Initiative and view a complete listing of participating institutions, please visit the NASPA website at https://www.naspa.org/rpi/lead-initiative.
Without the assistance of college volunteers, many public, non-profit, and community-based organizations would not be able to fulfill their missions of service to others. That’s why a Community Involvement Fair at Alfred State attracted a crowd of organizations eager to enlist the support of more students.
Many of the organizations present at the fair have benefited from a flood of Alfred State student volunteers and interns in the past, which is why they were looking to recruit Pioneers again.
Susan Hooker, executive director of the Hornell Area Concern for Youth, noted that “there are so many ways” in which Alfred State students have helped her organization. She particularly complimented the human service management students who have completed their 400-hour management-focused internship at Concern for Youth, saying they have been “excellent.”
“Alfred State students are well prepared to enter into non-profit internships or volunteer experiences,” she said. “They come in, interact with the youth, and share their ideas and talents.”
Hannah Spalding, recruitment manager for The Service Collaborative of Western New York, mentioned two recent Alfred State graduates who have served as Americorps members through programs offered by her organization. One of them served in Clifton Springs helping veterans, and another is currently a tutor and mentor in Buffalo city schools.
“The whole point of our agency is to connect individuals with volunteer and service opportunities in the community, wherever their community may be,” she said. “We wouldn’t be able to exist without people who want to be engaged, so I would say Alfred State students absolutely help us do what we do.”
Though Bryan Gamache became the executive director of the Allegany County United Way in July, he is no stranger to working with Alfred State students, noting that he has had positive experiences with them in the past when he was with Accord. Given the number of students who had expressed interest in volunteering with the United Way during the fair, the impact they could have would be “phenomenal,” he said.
“We depend a lot on volunteers, and based on the conversations I’ve had today,” he said, “going forward, if we were to have this group of students come together, I think a lot of good ideas would come of that.”
At the Community Involvement Fair, 28 organizations from Alfred and the surrounding region were on-hand to highlight internship, volunteer, and community engagement opportunities. Students from nearby Alfred University were also invited to participate, as students network with potential employer or internship sites, make valuable community connections, and discover ways to get involved.
The passion that Alfred State students have for helping out the community and those in need is undeniable, even for those who haven’t yet set foot in the classroom.
On Tuesday, Aug. 23, a total of 93 incoming students took part in Community Action Day, held during the college’s annual Week of Welcome. Designed with new students in mind, the week includes a number of events that are intended to help students have fun, get involved, and feel at home.
This year, Community Action Day included projects in churches, libraries, and other non-profit organizations in Alfred, Allentown, Almond, Belmont, Hornell, and Wellsville. These included organizing the community rooms in the basement of the Almond 20th Century Club Library, landscaping and gardening at the Hart Comfort House in Wellsville, and cleaning up outside the Alfred United Methodist Church.
Jonathan Hilsher, director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Alfred State, said, “Community Action Day is a great tradition that allows new students to build friendships, volunteer alongside partnering non-profit organizations, and connect with their new community. This tradition is one way Alfred State lives out our ongoing commitment to civic engagement.”
Bo Glover, an architecture major from Rochester, was one of several incoming students who helped pound trail signage into the ground along the new Pioneer Trail on the Alfred campus. She said she has always done volunteer work in her hometown and decided Community Action Day was a great way to get to know the campus and to give back to the community she is now a part of.
“It feels great,” she said. “I hope to be more active in the community and to also take on more of a leadership role in the future.”
Civic engagement is a key focus at Alfred State, with students, faculty, and staff taking part in days of service such as Celebrate Service Celebrate Allegany and Spring Into Action, and volunteering out-of-state in places such as South Carolina and New Orleans.
The number of service hours contributed by Alfred State’s students has seen significant increases in recent years. Through internships, clinical treatments, and volunteering, the number of service hours has climbed by more than 10 percent per year and has surpassed 80,000 hours of community service per school year.
Joining with volunteers throughout the US and beyond in celebration of National Volunteer Week and Global Youth Service Day, 220 Alfred State students and students from Alfred University took part in Spring Into Action Day of Service on Saturday, April 16.
The students participated in 25 projects at various locations such as churches, libraries, and service organizations in several communities including Alfred, Alfred Station, Almond, and Wellsville. Examples of service included clearing hiking trails at Phillips Creek State Forest, preparing Little League fields for the season, painting light posts and fire hydrants in the village of Alfred, and preparing and serving food at Wellsville Community Kitchen.
Barbara Pierce, a student activities secretary, who helped found the Alfred Community Garden and who volunteered and coordinated various service projects, said, “It’s always a pleasure to have students participate in the days of service with their energy and enthusiasm. The rewarding feeling for the Alfred Community Garden volunteers and the students cannot be measured. Some of the Mu Theta fraternity brothers and members of the Caribbean Student Association request volunteering there every year.”
National Volunteer Week, which ran from April 10-16 this year, is “about inspiring, recognizing, and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities, according to www.pointsoflight.org. Global Youth Service Day, as stated on its website, http://gysd.org/, is “the largest service event in the world and the only one dedicated to the contributions that children and youth make 365 days of the year.”
In photo: Alfred State students Juliana Krajewski, technology management, Buffalo, left, and Abraham Kalamadeen, motorsports technology, Brooklyn, paint a Victorian street light pole on Main Street in Alfred.