From volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva and the Community Sale to working on projects for the City of Geneva, seven Hobart and William Smith students gave back locally in a significant way through the Colleges’ annual Summer of Service program. This year’s participants included Rebecca Czajkowski ’18, Alyssa Kelly ’19, Maddie Maher ’19, Dianna Paige ’19, Makayla Pydych ’19, Richie Ramrati ’18 and Maddie Sherwood ’18.
Now in its seventh year and organized by the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL), the 10-week program connects HWS students to comprehensive volunteer projects hosted by community partners. Since its launch with AmeriCorps in 2010, HWS students have collectively contributed about 15,000 hours of service through the program.
“The Summer of Service program embodies the ideals of ‘lives of consequence’ in a way that feels tangible for the students,” says CCESL Director Katie Flowers. “It’s another opportunity for students of Hobart and William Smith to see themselves as Genevans, and it allows our community partners to further some of their goals by leveraging the talent of our students.”
The Summer of Service students concluded the 2017 program by showcasing their capstone service projects and findings in Trinity Hall.
Kelly kicked off the presentations, addressing her work with the Community Sale, which was previously known as the Barn Sale. Kelly organized and supervised the extensive fundraising event at The Cooler where items that had been donated by students, faculty and staff were sold. Thanks to the sale, thousands of pounds of goods were diverted from landfills and raised $12,300 for charity. “Summer of Service truly makes Geneva feel like home and HWS students feel like engaged and proud residents of the community,” says Kelly.
For his capstone, Ramrati redesigned the City of Geneva’s website, making the site smoother and faster for users by implementing upgrades for caching and image compression. Ramrati also managed the reorganization of more than 200 webpages, organized databases and wrote a manual for future use and editing of the website. One of the benefits of the program includes “the ability to make change with great minds who only wish to see the community develop so that the world we live in is a better place for those who follow,” says Ramrati.
As a Geneva native, Maher viewed her hometown from a different perspective when she worked with the City of Geneva as a communications intern. As part of her experience, she managed Facebook pages, coordinated City events and assisted with the Neighborhood Olympics. “I have lived in Geneva almost my whole life and have never had the chance to see it as an insider like this,” Maher recalls. “It made me appreciate the City and all the work that goes into making it such a great place.”
Working as a team, Pydych and Sherwood spent their summer volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva at the Geneva Community Center. They planned events, served as guides for field trips, distributed lunches and snacks to the children, and guided students through the Summer Academy – a program designed to give young people an opportunity to get a sense of college academics. “Children are the future of this city, state, country – they are the upcoming forces we have for this world, so it is imperative to help them in whatever ways we can,” Pydych says. “Working somewhere as important to the community as the Boys and Girls Club allowed me to make a difference in the lives of Geneva’s youth,” Sherwood adds.
Leveraging her passion to become a teacher, Czajkowski served as the club coordinator at the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva. For her project, Czajkowski took her three years of experience working at the Club to assist with the reevaluation of the Tutor Corps program, seeking ways to enhance opportunities for mentoring and links to the college preparation Summer Academy program. “My Summer of Service gave me the time and presence I needed to develop stronger relationships with the City and Geneva community members that I believe benefit both myself and them,” says Czajkowski.
With the focus on children, Paige interned with the Family Counseling Service of the Finger Lakes. The experience provided an opportunity for Paige to travel around the Finger Lakes to attend court hearings that center on family counseling issues and to experience family counseling sessions in the office. During her project, Paige received training for Adverse Childhood Experiences, which focuses on explaining why children display certain behaviors. At the presentation, Paige explained her training and addressed future opportunities for understanding counseling issues.