On Saturday morning, 743 first-years, transfer students and Orientation Mentors participated in the 18th annual Orientation Day of Service as they introduced themselves to community stakeholders and began their relationship with the local area as engaged citizens and volunteers. The students partnered with community organizations at 29 locations throughout the city of Geneva and within surrounding Ontario and Seneca counties. [To follow the weekend’s events, visit the Orientation 2017 news page.]
“We are an international example for community engagement,” said President Gregory J. Vincent ’83, during the kick-off ceremony on the Quad. “The relationship we have with Geneva and the surrounding communities is something that other institutions big and small are trying to replicate, but we are doing it right here. I’m so excited that during your Orientation you’re getting involved and engaged in the community.”
In 2017, HWS was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the sixth year in a row, a federal initiative that recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary service.
Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) Katie Flowers and Associate Director Jeremy Wattles shared remarks before sending students to help multiple non-profit agencies, churches and school districts that enable arts and culture in different neighborhoods, provide safe-spaces and resources for everyday-life and support the most vulnerable members of the population.
At St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, students dusted and swept the church, and raked the outside grounds.
“Commitment to community service was something that attracted me to HWS,” said Sydney Hummel ’21, of Ft. Myers, Fla., while helping sort toy blocks for children at St. Peter’s. “We did service at my high school, so when I began looking for a college – and saw that HWS was so involved in the community – it helped me know this would be a good fit for me.”
Another group of students set out to revamp the Challenger Baseball facility, where a league for children aged 5-21 with cognitive or physical disabilities, play throughout the spring. Challenger Baseball Coordinator Linda Guerrie said the organization benefits from their collaboration with HWS. “It’s really such a lift. This is the biggest effort we have to keep everything maintained and looking nice for all the sports teams, including a Special Olympics event.”
In addition to these sites, members of the Classes of 2021 helped sweep and dust the Dove Block; weeded and gardened at the Geneva Public Library; and partnered with international relief organization Rise Against Hunger to package 30,000 meals for distribution to schools and communities around the world in need of nutritious food.
Students also assisted the Geneva NAACP and community partners in an event organized by Lucile Mallard L.H.D. ’15, president of the Geneva NAACP chapter, to distribute school supplies for more than 400 children at Geneva City schools.
Robert Martinez ’21, of Canton, N.Y., was impressed by the immediate impact of the day’s events. “It’s great to be able to engage with the kids and put some books in their hands so they can be prepared for school. Being prepared is important to school success,” he said, while handing out school supplies.
As one student summarized, the day’s events also resonated personally for first-years who are beginning to feel a sense of place in the HWS and Geneva community. “It feels great to get on campus and be able to make an immediate impact,” said Carly Fischer ’21, of Madison, Conn.
The next Day of Service will be held on Saturday, Oct. 21.