2,100 Hours of Service to Geneva – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

2,100 Hours of Service to Geneva

As part of a collaborative effort between Hobart and William Smith Colleges, AmeriCorps and local organizations, HWS students will provide 2,100 hours of service to non-profit agencies in Geneva this summer. The seven students, each working 300 hours, will serve at a variety of agencies such as the Geneva Neighborhood Resource Center, the Geneva School District, Happiness House and the Smith Opera House.

“This is the perfect example of how Geneva partnerships flourish not only during the academic year, but throughout the summer as well,” says Katie Flowers, the director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning.  “These internship experiences are a wonderful opportunity to capitalize on students’ needs for summer internships while simultaneously enhancing organizational and outreach capacity of local community partners.”

Participants include: Laura Butera ‘12, Kara Ruskin ‘12, Lauren Schwarzenberg ‘12, Kian Williams ‘13, Ashley Yang ‘11, Bradley Umble ‘12 and Megan VanDorp ’13. 

Butera will work under the supervision of Sage Gerling and Nicole Martin at the Geneva Neighborhood Resource Center (GNRC).  The GNRC assists community members with improvements to their homes and neighborhoods. Butera will work on design projects, assist community members in renovating their properties, work on the community garden, and help with GNRC’s “Pocket Parks Campaign,” which hosts events at local parks.

“I am excited to get to know the community better and to apply my architectural studies skills towards helping others,” says Butera. “I couldn’t imagine a better way for me to give back to Geneva, which has already given me so much.”

Ruskin will work on an innovative obesity prevention program under the direction of Christine Smith at Finger Lakes Health. Ruskin has been working with West Street Elementary School to develop new curricula that includes the promotion of healthy eating habits. 

“This job will give me a great opportunity to get involved and become closer to the community of Geneva.  Health education is something I’ve heavily studied in school as well as something I feel extremely passionate about,” Ruskin says.

Also at West Street Elementary School, Schwarzenberg will work with Principal Nina McCarthy designing projects that will make the hallways and various other spaces in the school more interactive. She will also work at the Boys and Girls Club with Bob Ritter, directing the fine arts program for Kids Campus University, which exposes elementary students to higher education.

“I am glad to have the opportunity to utilize Lauren’s skills and talents. Because of the recent budget cuts, the chance to have someone as skilled as Lauren on our staff at no cost to us is extremely helpful,” Ritter says. 

Schwarzenberg looks forward to her experiences. “I am excited to have the opportunity to work with both groups. These summer opportunities will allow me to understand how K – 2 students learn and what interests them.” 

Williams will work at Happiness House spending her first 150 hours working with adults with brain injuries, and her remaining 150 hours with children with and without disabilities. Williams will provide basic care, assisting with daily activities as well as planning schedules. In addition, she will incorporate her dance and step background into their exercise regimen. “I hope to gain patience and understanding as well as share all that I can with the members of Happiness House.”

Yang will lead summer school programs for students in grades 9th through 12th during the morning, and will act as the Geneva Community Center’s fine arts coordinator for middle to high school students in the afternoon.  As the fine arts coordinator for the community center, Yang will work to encourage an interest in the fine arts amongst middle and high school students. 

 “As someone who didn’t get involved in dance until I was 18, I want to encourage older teenagers who haven’t had a background in dance to start,” says Yang. She also intends to utilize visual arts such as clay and pottery, bring in musical theater numbers to the Black Box Theater in the community center, and take field trips to local theater agencies. 

Umble will work on marketing and publicity at the Smith Opera House with Kelly Bradley, director of operations, and Rich Reiben, chief executive officer.  He will focus primarily on marketing the Smith to Geneva residents, and also generate ideas on how to promote the opera house to Hobart and William Smith students throughout the academic year. 

VanDorp will travel to Lyons, N.Y., to work with Rev. Richard Witt at the Rural Migrant Ministries. VanDorp will serve in the English as a Second Language Program and the Farm worker Outreach Program, where she will be responsible for outreach in farm camps, helping to plan and implement a summer camp for middle school students, tutoring in a ESL/literacy program, and more. As a third-generation dairy farmer in Upstate New York, VanDorp is passionate about the opportunity. 

“I have grown up around agriculture and have an in-depth knowledge of farm issues,” she explains. “I am interested in raising awareness about the degradation migrant farm workers deal with, while maintaining the delicate budget that allows a family farm to operate.” 

This Hobart and William Smith initiative is part of the national movement “Students in Service,” which began in 1997. It has as its goals “to foster civic engagement among higher education students, promote the National Service movement, and encourage positive relationships between campuses and communities.” The seven Hobart and William Smith students will join approximately 3,800 other AmeriCorps members from across the country to give back to their local communities. 

The students’ housing and salary is paid by Geneva Partnership funding made possible by the Office of the President. In addition, the students will also receive a $1,100 AmeriCorps award which will be matched up to $1,000 by HWS if applied towards tuition. Hobart and William Smith Colleges are among only 92 colleges to match AmeriCorps awards.   

In the photo above Bradley Umble ‘12 works at the ticket booth of the Smith Opera House.