Cultivating Community Engagement Through Orientation – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Cultivating Community Engagement Through Orientation

As part of Orientation, students from the Classes of 2019 will have their first opportunity to collectively engage and acquaint themselves with the Geneva community through the service component of the weekend. From grounds keeping  to meal packaging and even building a playground, the group of 645 new students will lend a hand to 34 organizations throughout the greater Geneva community. 

“We hope that activities like the Day of Service introduce all that Geneva has to offer to new students, and encourages them to think deeply about what it will mean for them to be an engaged citizen here for four years,” says Jeremy Wattles, associate director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning.

The Classes will engage in service activities both on campus and at various community sites, including Geneva Gardens, Rose Hill Mansion, Phelps Library, Harmony Food Pantry, several area churches, and for the first time, all 11 neighborhoods in Geneva.

Orientation Coordinators Peter Budmen ’15, MAT ’16 and Hannah Connolly ’16 hope to further the “keeping it local” focus of Orientation 2015 through the service activities, cultivating the value of community engagement celebrated at the Colleges.

“Orientation is the first opportunity that the Classes of 2019 have to put into action the ethos and values of the Colleges, and service is one of those values,” says Budmen. “The significance and importance to the many impacted by the service of HWS students is an important realization of what it means to be an HWS and a Geneva community member.”

This year, the Classes of 2019 will leave their mark on the community through a number of laudable contributions. One group of students, for example, will be contributing to the construction of a new play park in the Geneva Garden’s South lake neighborhood. Several other groups of students will also be dispersed throughout Geneva’s neighborhoods, where they will help with cleanup and grounds keeping efforts.

Another group of students will collaborate with the local chapter of the NAACP to distribute school supplies to the Geneva City School District through the NAACP’s Backpack Program. In light of the upcoming city council elections this fall, students will team up with the League of Women Voters to contribute to the registration drive initiatives.

While much of the service will take place within the local community, many students will remain on campus to take part in packaging meals for Stop Hunger Now, an international non-profit organization that distributes food and lifesaving aid to children and families in need across the globe. After initiating a successful partnership with the organization during last year’s Orientation, the Classes of 2019 will expand on the contributions already made through the Colleges’ efforts by packaging nearly 60,000 meals for the organization.

Whether the students engage in service on campus or within the local community, ultimately the goal of the diverse service efforts is to ensure that the students become active and engaged members of both the HWS and Geneva communities.

“It is through this experience that the first-years will make their initial connections to the community and with community partners,” says Connolly. “We hope that this experience will serve as the foundation for their future engagement as HWS students living in Geneva.”

The photo above features Orientation Coordinators Peter Budmen ’15, MAT ’16 and Hannah Connolly ’16.