VSLC Exchange Volunteer and Service-Learning Center
Explore, Connect, Act with the VSLC! Laura Hill Rao, VSLC Coordinator Community engagement is now part of the culture and nature of a Buffalo State College education. A remarkable 1,740 students participated in academic service-learning experiences through 76 courses during the 2011-2012 year. That’s over 10% of the student body! In addition, 1,189 students participated in VSLC volunteer events this year. These experiences can be very impactful and meaningful for our students, as you will read in the pages of this year’s newsletter.
Page 2 Faculty Perspective: Financially Empowering Refugees Page 3 Student Perspective: Global Learning at Wegman’s
Fall Community Service Day participants sort donations for Journey’s End Refugee Services.
Buffalo State students have come to expect to engage in the community through their educational pursuits here. That expectation has compelled the VSLC and the institution to respond through the creation of meaningful and collaborative partnerships that promote student learning and community change. The 2011-2012 academic year saw much growth, and many new initiatives.
The VSLC supported the opening of the Buffalo State Community Academic Center (CAC) in November 2011. Jointly operated by the VSLC and the Center for Excellence in Urban and Rural Education, the CAC will engage Buffalo State students, faculty, and staff in support of youth education and academic enrichment. We invite you to stop by and talk with us about these efforts – you’ll find us at 214 Grant Street on Buffalo’s West Side. As a direct outcome of student requests, the VSLC implemented a service-learning designation this year. Buffalo State students can now search for and identify servicelearning courses when they register for classes. A noteworthy 29 courses met these criteria in the Spring 2012 semester!
Alternative Spring Break students help revitalize Baltimore while learning more about the city.
Inside This Issue:
VSLC AmeriCorps Community Service Leaders are students who dedicate 300 hours of service to the community and receive an AmeriCorps education award to support their college education. The response to this new program was outstanding, and we were able to offer positions directly through the VSLC and CAC. Lastly, Monthly Service Corps programs in partnership with the CAC engage students committed to regular and meaningful opportunities to see change through their work in the community.
We are proud of these new programs as well as the continued impacts of the service-learning work that students, faculty, and community partners accomplished this year. We look forward to increased collaborations that support and sustain these fantastic efforts. Please read on, and we thank you for your continued efforts to explore, connect and act!
Page 4 Community Perspective: The Challenge of Building a Program Page 5 Images of Service in Action Page 6-7 Community Service Leaders: School 30 and Making Fishers of Men and Women Page 8-9 Events: CAC Opening, Monthly Service Corps and Alternative Spring Break Page 10 VSLC Year in Review Page 11 Volunteer Opportunities Page 12 Meet the VSLC Staff
Mission Statement The Volunteer and ServiceLearning Center (VSLC) leads efforts to integrate service with learning in departments across campus while improving the success of local agencies and schools in meeting the needs of community residents.
Service-Learning Faculty Perspective Financially Empowering Refugees Dr. Jill Norvilitis, Professor of Psychology For many of the refugees who arrive in Buffalo each year, the U.S. economic system is bewildering. These families may not know the difference between a quarter and a nickel or between dubious financial arrangements (such as payday loans) and potentially helpful ones (such as no-fee savings and checking accounts). Although resettlement agencies provide information about financial literacy, they are so busy providing basic services such as housing, transportation, food, and job training, they are unable to provide the depth and repetition of financial concepts that refugees may require. PSY 381 Psychology of Culture is a cross-cultural course that explores psychological dimensions along which culture varies and the impact of ethnocentrism on how we view others. A service-learning component provides students with an opportunity to get to know people from another culture and to witness how topics discussed in class apply in real world settings. To address both the financial literacy needs of the refugees and the need for more in-depth, applied knowledge of culture, together with Journey’s End Refugee Services, we developed a 20 hour service-learning component. Students in Psychology of Culture meet with families six times to discuss topics ranging from monetary denominations to setting up a bank account. This type of mentoring allows families to learn more about money than simply participating in, for example, a class session. After each meeting, students write a journal entry in which they describe the session and relate their experience to the course content. After the last meeting, students write a paper describing the process, results, and what they learned. This has been a changing experience for both the students and the refugees. Students become quite attached to their families and typically go well beyond the financial education curriculum, to field trips, extra sessions, and friendships that last beyond the semester. Student responses have been positive, and many students report that they were not previously aware of the number of refugees in our community or their needs. One student described the experience as the "most meaningful thing I have ever done.” The refugees, too, respond positively. After his sessions, one gentleman wrote to Journey’s End:
PSY 381 students pose with a refugee family.
“….Though the time was limited, it was only six days in six weeks, but I learned a lot that is necessary and helpful for me! I understood how to use metro bus and subway, understood the way how to use the food stamp in proper way, and I also understood the basic regulation that one has to follow in USA….At first I felt life in USA is very difficult but after their help, I felt easy and comfortable. I started shopping myself from cheap markets and use metro buses easily….At the last I would like to thank to my agency and to Jessica, Amy and Samantha for their help.”
“This has been a changing experience for both the students and the refugees.”
“One student described the experience as the ‘most meaningful thing I have ever done.’”
Service-Learning Student Perspectives Global Learning at Wegman’s Jaquilla Vinson, EDU 211 Student Last semester, I participated in an EDU 211 service-learning project called Wegman’s Global Book Hour, which is a program geared toward literacy. Each week a new book is introduced and a different region of the world is focused on. For example, one week the book would focus on Chinese traditions and the following week focus on Chile. Also, geography, music and art are always tied into the schedule. Students from the Buffalo State College Music Department would play music from the region that was the focus of the week. Arts and crafts always followed the read aloud, and the students loved finding the location of the region that we would be reading about on our big world map. I knew of Wegman’s Global Book Hour before the semester I participated because of my roommate, who took EDU 211 the semester before I did. I liked the idea of service-learning. I have participated in several community service projects and saw it as a great opportunity to get involved in the Buffalo community. I found that by attending the Global Book Hour, the children learn to be more appreciative of books. Many young children were first introduced to books here if they were not already in school. And for the children who were in school and aware of books, they could add to their list of books they’ve read. More importantly, each child that attended was able to take their book with them and begin their own libraries at home, if not add to them. I found it to be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. For the children, it was an experience outside of school that encouraged reading and education without being in a school setting. This is a positive because a few of the children there said they disliked school, but liked the Global Book Hour. I think the outcome is always better when children are learning simply by enjoying. The parents were able to enjoy the experience as well. They were able to enjoy the activities with their children. For some parents, it may be one of the few times they get to do something with their children due to busy work schedules and such. The tips of the week were very helpful for parents as well. For me and many of the Buffalo State students, it was an experience that encouraged us to use what we learned in class and demonstrate it. Authentic learning opportunities always have the best outcomes. For everyone who attends Global Book Hour, it is such an enjoyable experience.
Children celebrate Halloween during Global Book Hour.
Service-Learning’s Importance Eduardo Dominguez, COM 308 Student Thinking about the future used to leave me feeling very anxious. My desire is to become a public relations writer for the music industry, but what could I do to develop myself as an individual? Since September 2011, my involvement with the Volunteer and ServiceLearning Center has taught me to be confident and open-minded to what life has to offer. I believe there is a great opportunity in volunteering because many people around my age tend to feel confused or unmotivated. There is a chance to not only work to improve the community, but to also gain experience while doing so. As a service-learning student, I have gotten hands-on experience with writing news releases and fact sheets for the Buffalo State Community Academic Center. My participation was helpful for me because I was able to establish an understanding of the culture here in Buffalo. I also began to meet working professionals within my field and establish personal connections with them. When I really think about it, volunteering is like an internship guiding me toward success.
Service-Learning Community Perspectives The Challenge of Building a Program Aurora Schul, Ontario Street After School Program I began developing the Ontario Street After School Program in January 2012 as part of my AmeriCorps America Builds Lives through Education (ABLE) placement as an Educational Coordinator at the VSLC. While there are many words I could use to describe the last few months of my experience creating an after school program in Riverside, there is one that always comes to my attention: challenge. According to Webster’s Dictionary, challenge has many meanings: to demand as due or deserved, to confront or defy boldly, to invite into competition, and to arouse or stimulate especially by presenting with difficulties. During my time developing and coordinating the Ontario Street After School Program, I feel that all the previous meanings have existed.
Program participants practice their music.
I was told that there was a need in the area for such a program. There was no out-of-school after school programming that took place in the 14207 ZIP code, which is why the need was so great. While there may be a demand from the greater Riverside community, the Buffalo Public Schools, and others, there was a challenge in the demand. Even the parents I spoke with on the streets while handing out flyers said that there was a demand and that their children deserved to have some sort of similar programming going on in their neighborhood. However, their children already went to another after school program across town, or at their school. So here was one of my challenges: bridging the gap between the demand and the actual attendance at our after school program.
The arena for marketing and public relations has increased greatly since the creation and use of the internet and social media. However, I was not a Marketing or Public Relations major in college. I received my Bachelors in History and my Masters in Education, and nowhere did I learn anything about massive and catchy communication for the public. So here was another challenge – confronting my inexperience and lack of knowledge when it came to advertising for a new program. There was also the challenge of competition – competition from Buffalo Public School’s afterschool mandated programs and the non-academic interests of the youth. Because of the high English Language Learner population in the city’s schools, most of the children have to attend state-mandated programs to help them with their English skills. Moreover, it is difficult to persuade and bring youth into an afterschool program, after they have been in school all day. How could I entice them? How could I create an environment where youth would want to come spend time? Lastly, I was confronted with other difficulties. I didn’t know the neighborhood. I am not from Riverside or even the city of Buffalo for that matter, so learning what resources and allies were available to me was a challenge. The daunting fact of developing a program from very little had me spinning my wheels. There were details I never even thought of that I needed to consider and address in order to get the program off the ground.
A child gets help gardening during the Ontario Street After School Program.
While the word challenge describes my experience in developing the Ontario Street After School Program, there has been progress. After another flyer blitz, thanks to Alternative Spring Break students, I received more calls from parents who wanted to send their children to the after school program and who were interested in the summer camp I am hosting there in August. I attend meetings, such as Riverside Planters and Rediscover Riverside, in order to meet allies in the community who know parents and youth in Riverside, similar to putting a buzzing fly in someone’s ear. I market wherever and whenever I can. I use the local newspaper to see what businesses I can persuade to distribute information about our program and solicit donations. What I’ve learned is, challenge isn’t a four letter word you shouldn’t say in front of your mother or teacher. Challenge is a word that allows you to grow.
Service in Action Snapshots of Monthly Service Corps In the spring semester, the VSLC began offering monthly opportunities for groups of dedicated students to perform meaningful service projects on the West Side. Left: Several students from March’s project pose in front of the Westside Ministries house on DeWitt Street. Top right: Two volunteers diligently strip paint from woodwork on the second floor during the March project. Bottom right: Buffalo State students enjoying pulling weeds at April’s Monthly Service Corps event.
Community Service Leaders The Community Service Leader Program is a new VSLC AmeriCorps program engaging students in high-quality service throughout Western New York.
Top left: Roberta Duffy leads volunteers at the Asbury Shalom Zone during Fall Community Service Day.
Top right: Leader Alexis Ayala distributes American Cancer Society information at the Student Union.
Bottom: Fall Leaders reflect on their experience.
Community Academic Center: Before and After The VSLC partnered with the Center for Excellence in Urban and Rural Education to open the Community Academic Center (CAC) on Grant Street in November. Clockwise from top left:
The exterior of 214 Grant Street just after it was acquired to become the CAC.
The interior of the space, formerly a flower shop, before extensive renovations.
All the attendees of the CAC’s Grand Opening on November 15, 2011.
A Buffalo State intern assists a Burmese child at the new and renovated CAC.
Community Service Leaders Frank A. Sedita Academy—School 30 John Guzda Going into my second semester of my junior year, I really wanted to participate in a professional development opportunity that related to my aspiration of becoming a social studies teacher. The VSLC had just begun the Community Service Peer Leader program and was looking for individuals on campus to work at various locations in the community. Noticing that Frank A. Sedita Academy was on the list, I contacted the VSLC and requested to interview for the position at the school. After all, teaching is what I want to do in the future, and this was my first opportunity to not simply observe and be a junior participant, but actually work in a school! The VSLC interviewed me for the position through Skype (as I was in Manchester, England) and soon after, I was told that I had attained the position. Since January 2011, I have been working part-time as a classroom assistant at the school. Up until December of that year, I also was able to attend bi-weekly professional development workshops that provided by the VSLC. The first year of work was phenomenal, and the workshops were designed to assist me with any questions I had when dealing with kids or teachers at the school. The workshops, which were a second component of the Community Service Peer Leader Program, allowed me to meet other driven students on campus, while giving me and others the opportunity to share stories of our experience and discuss various strategies. The program culminated with an extremely successful clothing drive that was put together by all the Peer Leaders. John receives the 2012 Student Employee of the Year award from the Career Development Center.
As the Community Peer Leader Program ended in December of 2011, my supervisor at School 30 informed me that the school found a way to hire me through May of 2012. This was an opportunity I never thought would happen, and has allowed me to continue to work in an environment that I truly love.
“Getting the opportunity to take over the class on occasion and teach my own lessons has been a thrill and something I have found I love to do.”
Working in the Buffalo Public Schools with kids from 1st through 8th grade has truly prepared me for my future teaching career. Along with continuing to coordinate service-learning students from Buffalo State, I have unquestionably been able to learn something new every day. My time there, including spending half of my hours in a 7th/8th grade Social Studies class has given me insight into my future career choice and has helped me during my classes here on the Buffalo State campus. Getting the opportunity to take over the class on occasion and teach my own lessons has been a thrill and something I have found I love to do. Relationships with teachers and faculty at School 30 have been made, and each of those connections has only provided me with further opportunities to learn and become a better teacher. Towards the end of May, when I leave School 30 to teach in Ghana before my student teaching assignment, it will be bittersweet. The opportunity to work at School 30 has meant everything to me, and has allowed me to achieve professional and educational recognition far beyond what I had imagined. What I have learned, along with the people I have met, has shaped my future and I am more confident in my abilities moving forward. I am truly grateful for this amazing experience that has been such a large part of my college career at Buffalo State.
Community Service Peer Leaders Spring-Fall 2011 A US Department of Education grant allowed the VSLC to recruit and place 15 Community Work-Study students with area organizations in the fall. Two former leaders share their experiences on pages 6 and 7.
AmeriCorps Community Service Leaders Spring 2012 A Campus Compact grant now allows the VSLC to recruit and place students with area organizations for 300 hours of service. There are After School Volunteer Corps, Community Service Interns and Work-Study Students.
Community Service Leaders Making Fishers of Men and Women Paul Gabriellini When I interviewed for the position of Community Service Peer Leader in the fall of 2011, the VSLC matched me with Making Fishers of Men and Women. Making Fishers of Men and Women is a non-profit after school program that focuses on the development of character, ability, and discipline for our students, aged 6-18 years old, by providing a safe environment and inspiring healthy choices – all while giving back to the community however we can. Overall, what we mainly try to instill in the students are traits and skills that they will be able to use and value for the rest of their lives. I was unaware that my role at the center would be such a pivotal one, but the Making Fishers overseers Mike and Lynda Brundige trusted me with many tasks, and they allowed me to utilize and apply the skills I have. Part of my job is to be as a liaison between Making Fishers and Buffalo State College, as well as other resources in the community. I also teach basic improvisation theater to students on a regular basis. The goal of these lessons is not necessarily to create better actors out of students; basic theater or improvisation skills exercise the mind’s ability for focus, creative and organic thinking, communication and teamwork. My favorite part of the job, however, is to realize projects that will bring the community together as well as advance the program itself. One of my proudest achievements was in October, when we collaborated to put together our very own haunted house. It was created from one of the community houses that had been gutted out and was completely empty. My job was essentially to design the ideas and create the finished product for the haunted house. We opened for one night only on October 30th for several members of the community to come in and get scared. The entire interior was made from resources that we all pulled together. On Fall 2011 Community Service Day, over 20 volunteers from Buffalo State College signed up for the beginning construction of the Making Fishers “Octoboo fest” Haunted House. I was expecting 7 or 8 volunteers, not over 20, and it was a little unnerving to handle that number of people. Thankfully, this project facilitated the need for workers, and at the end of the day, much of the process had been completed. We even got several volunteers excited to get involved with Making Fishers in the future. We barely managed to put together the finishing touches of the haunted house the day of the performance with the help of several Buffalo State College Theater majors.
A Buffalo State College Theater major dresses in a scary costume for the Haunted House.
We churned out a terrifying experience for the community. Admittedly, my goal for the haunted house was less about showing the students a good time and more about giving them nightmares. We had a safety word that when a student was too scared to continue. They just shouted, “UNCLE!” and we stopped the scares and escorted them out. I am proud to say that nearly half of the students cried uncle and those who didn’t were scared silly. One group became so frightened that they burst through one of the guard fences outside of the house out of fear of our Buffalo State Theater monsters. After the night had ended, my supervisors and I were thrilled and proud of the end result of our hard work. This semester, the project we are trying to undertake is an expansion of the playground the center had built before my time as their Peer Leader. We plan to build a portable stage for summer performances, as well as a basketball or tennis court to encourage activeness in our youth. This will probably be a long project, but we are excited to witness the physical growth of our program.
Paul prepares the Haunted House.
I was proud to know that I would be continuing my community service work-study position in the spring for my second semester and continuing the goals that I, as a member of the Making Fishers family, continue to expand on. As I continue to work with Making Fishers of Men and Women, I feel more and more like a member of a family that works together; to see the growth of the program from when I started makes me proud of my service efforts. I could definitely see myself opening and running an organization like Making Fishers because of the feeling of satisfaction from serving my community.
VSLC Events Monthly Service Corps Begins Karalynn Brown, AmeriCorps VISTA
Community Academic Center Opens Maureen McCarthy, CAC Staff Associate This past November, Buffalo State opened the doors of the Community Academic Center (CAC) located at 214 Grant Street in Buffalo. Made possible through a $500,000 gift from longtime Buffalo State supporters Eleanore Woods Beals, ’50, and her husband, Vaughn Beals, the CAC is dedicated to coordinating and providing cradle-to-career educational supports for youth and families on Buffalo’s West Side. The CAC is jointly operated by Buffalo State’s Volunteer and Service-Learning Center and the Center for Excellence in Urban and Rural Education and synthesizes their missions by bringing together Buffalo State faculty, staff and students with local community organizations, youth, and families. In the first few months of operation, several key campus and community collaborations have emerged. In partnership with the Grant Street Neighborhood Center, the CAC is holding drop-in programs for local youth. Weekly programs include the writing workshop “Word Swag,” and Buffalo State’s Art Education Department’s “Visual Arts Program.” The CAC is also collaborating with Journey’s End Refugee Services to offer “Buffalo Beginnings,” a program that introduces recently resettled refugee youth and their parents to the American educational system, their new community, and American culture. Buffalo State’s Higher Education Administration Department offered “Career Counseling” to youth at Concerned Ecumenical Ministries After School Program. In addition to holding direct programs at the Grant Street location, the CAC has initiated programs that support the work of community partners. In the AmeriCorps After School Volunteer Corps, nine Buffalo State students began to serve at eight local schools and after school providers to offer academic support and enrichment activities to youth of all ages. Another opportunity for Buffalo State students to become more invested in their West Side community is through the Monthly Service Corps in which students design and perform a monthly service project at local organizations including West Side Ministries and the Asarese-Matters Community Center. The CAC looks forward to continuing conversations with campus and community partners to build on these successful beginnings. If you would like more information or to get involved, please contact us.
Stripping paint from woodwork is not thrilling, nor is it easy. It involves several tedious steps and tons of chemicals, and by the end of the day you know that you’ll never be able to wear your clothes again. But on March 5, that’s what five other Buffalo State students and I found ourselves doing. Hunched over our own little four-foot section of molding, we were scraping applying and buffing – all the while, forming the beginning of the Monthly Service Corps at Buffalo State College. And that’s the idea of the Monthly Service Corps – not a glamorous way to spend a Saturday, but a way to give back, for those who wish to, on a regular basis. The Monthly Service Corps is a new initiative of Buffalo State’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center and the Community Academic Center (CAC). It provides a studentled opportunity for a dedicated group of individuals to perform a meaningful service project on Buffalo’s West Side each month. It uses the CAC before and after-project meeting space, as well as a connection-maker between campus and community organizations. The first two projects held in February and March were both working with Westside Ministries, a local faith-based organization that focuses on housing rehabilitation on the West Side of Buffalo. Westside Ministries uses a model similar to that of Habitat for Humanity. They buy homes at low costs, sometimes after they have been foreclosed upon, renovate them with all-volunteer labor and either sell or rent them back to community members at fair prices. On February 18, 17 students turned out despite some snow to help Westside Ministries do some more basic work on their house on DeWitt Street. That day, we buffed floors, scraped wallpaper and put up drywall. While the student participants have had varying skill levels, I’m sure all have learned a thing or two about housing issues that we never expected to know. The Monthly Service Corps has been effective in complementing the work the CAC is doing on the West Side. It has also helped Buffalo State students to have a greater chance to get involved on a regular basis I look forward to the years to come in which a core group of dedicated students can come together to perform projects of importance to them and the community – whether it’s helping children, planting flowers, or even stripping paint. Additional Monthly Service Corps projects for spring 2012 will include a gardening day at the Asarese-Matters Community Center in April and possible tree planting in May. However, the group is open to student suggestions and will be led by student interest. If you’re a Buffalo State student looking to get more involved in service, or a community organization who could use some extra hands, please contact the Community Academic Center. Community Academic Center 214 Grant Street, Buffalo, NY 14213 (716) 878-3289 or CAC@buffalostate.edu www.buffalostate.edu/cac
VSLC Events Reflections on Alternative Spring Break Jasmine Milton, Student Leader What do you do when you want to help the community, but the community is pushing you away? How do you help youth when their parents don’t trust you? These are complex questions that we are faced with every day. And let the truth be told, there is no direct answer. As college students, many of us strive to be educators or positive influences for youth. So how do we help? Get involved. And that’s exactly what we did for our spring break. Instead of heading down to Cancun for a sunny day at the beach, we opted to take this time and give a helping hand. Under the Volunteer and Service-Learning Center at Buffalo State College, Alternative Spring Break (ASB) encourages the Buffalo State community towards active citizenship through volunteering and the creation of social change in the community. This is a great opportunity for a group of students to meet in an alcohol and drug free environment, gain valuable connections, and experience things that they might not have been introduced to otherwise. ASB Baltimore students renovate houses.
This March was the third year that ASB has been running and the second year that we hosted two trips. Our goal is to always maintain a “home” trip in the Buffalo community because we believe that we must help ourselves before we help others. Last year the first “away” trip was in Cleveland, Ohio, and because it was so successful we decided to host another “away” trip, this time in Baltimore, Maryland. As a first time participant in the home trip for ASB Spring 2011, I was amazed at how much help was needed in the community that I lived in. I met a group of wonderful peers that I had not known previously and whom I still consider friends until this day. As a group, we came together and partnered with local non-profit organizations such as Westside Ministries, Tift Nature Preserve, and First United Methodist Church. I was so overcome by the great need for help that I became co-chairperson for the spring 2012 trip. As student site leader for the Baltimore trip, I was completely grateful that I was part of a group of open-hearted students who were serious about making a positive impact. Though there were challenges, such as deciding what to do as a group during recreational time or what to eat for breakfast, the group was very mature in handling each situation as it came. This trip was packed with a variety of service projects such as serving in Baltimore’s largest soup kitchen, Our Daily Bread, to providing day care to families in need at Sarah’s House. Both organizations are branches of Catholic Charities of Baltimore. On other days, we worked in an up-and-coming neighborhood called Oliver, with organizations such as ComeHomeBaltimore and The6thBranch, which focuses on restoring the beauty of the neighborhood and getting the community more active. Each project was a challenge in itself, but I think I can speak for ASB as a whole when I say there is no greater feeling than knowing you just helped someone or a whole community. I encourage others to get involved any way they can because every hand is a helping one.
Images of Alternative Spring Break Left: ASB Buffalo students remove siding from a house for Westside Ministries. Top right: Students from the Baltimore trip help with cleanup in the Oliver neighborhood. Bottom right: Several students from the Buffalo trip demonstrate their muscle in removing demolished siding for Westside Ministries.
VSLC Year in Review The 2011-2012 academic year brought numerous opportunities for students to engage in service events with our community partners, and nearly 1189 students participated in 8170 hours of service through these fun and meaningful events.
Summer 2011 Many of our students were working in the community before the year even started! Service Day for Resident Assistants and Orientation Leaders engaged 125 students during their August 2011 training. Eight community organizations hosted these students who assisted with donation processing, gardening, and tree planting with partners including Buffalo ReUse, West Side Ministries, and Tifft Nature Preserve. An Orientation Service Day for new first year and transfer student involved 175 enthusiastic students who braved a hot and sunny Saturday to work with 14 organizations including Jericho Road Ministries, Asbury Shalom Zone, and numerous block clubs. Students painted, worked in gardens, and prepared food alongside community residents to beautify neighborhoods and create community.
Fall Community Service Day volunteers clean up the Back Rock neighborhood.
Orientation Service Day participants help organize donations.
Fall 2011 The fall semester kicked off with the Annual VSLC Volunteer Fair, which brought 26 community organizations on campus to speak directly with students about volunteer opportunities. The partners reported speaking with 460 eager students who were looking for volunteer opportunities for themselves, friends, and student groups. A Fall Community Service Day engaged 190 students with 12 different partners to help organizations ready gardens for winter, prepare areas of the city for the National Trust Conference, and create a haunted house for a community OctoberFest. The VSLC supported the opening of the Buffalo State Community Academic Center on Grant Street. The Center will support cradle through career educational programming for youth and families, and demonstrates Buffalo Stateâ€™s ongoing commitment to community engagement.
The 2012 Alternative Spring Break program saw 10 students travel to Baltimore for a week of service, and nine students serve with local organizations on the West Side of Buffalo all while building relationships and living together as a group. Meaningful friendships were built, civic leadership was developed, and fun was had by all! The Spring Community Service Day brought students out to the community to work with organizations including Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, the Joan A. Male Family Support Center, and Rediscover Riverside to clean up waterways, paint community centers, and create beautification and vegetable gardens. The semester and the year wrapped up as always with the Celebration of Service, an annual event to recognize achievements of Buffalo State students.
ASB Baltimore students volunteer at Sarahâ€™s House, a shelter for women and children.
Volunteer Opportunities in 20 Minutes or Less
Meet the VSLC Staff Laura Hill Rao, Coordinator I am an experiential learner, and came to the VSLC through my passion for learning by doing and a desire to help students connect to the community. I had the ultimate experience of applied learning as a graduate student in the Lesley University Audubon Expedition Institute where we lived on a school bus, camped outside every night, and learned about environmental and experiential education through experts in the field, service, and community-based opportunities to apply theory. Prior to coming to the VSLC, I was the Director of a Massachusetts AmeriCorps program. I now enjoy helping students make connections through applied learning and understand that can make a difference through every action they take.
Susannah White, Senior Associate “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain
Rose Coates, Administrative Assistant I joined the VSLC in fall 2009 and have learned a great deal about the many diverse organizations that serve the Western New York community. My past work for many years was in a WNY cultural organization and am a great supporter of the arts, currently being a volunteer at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. The VSLC is a great connection between students, faculty and the community partners we serve.
Michele Graves, Staff Associate I joined Buffalo State College in 2006 after retiring from a 30 year career with the Buffalo Police Department, where I represented the department in the community. I divide my time on campus between the Volunteer and Service-Learning Center and the Center for Health and Social Research, where I helped co-found of the West Side Youth Development Coalition. I live in the Town of Tonawanda with my husband Gene and pet Bichon.
Maureen McCarthy, Program Coordinator, Community Academic Center I recently joined the VSLC’s new Community Academic Center (CAC) where I develop and coordinate community collaborations to support youth and families on Buffalo’s West Side. My current position uniquely blends my past experiences as an art educator and a AmeriCorps ABLE Educational Coordinator. I am excited to continue to expand the capacity of the VSLC to directly engage youth, Buffalo State students, faculty, staff and community organizations.
Karalynn Brown, AmeriCorps VISTA, Community Academic Center I came to Buffalo after a few years on the road — leaving my native Nebraska to volunteer in Guatemala, teach in Slovakia and then study in Norway. I joined the Community Academic Center just prior to its opening in November. Working in the West Side has allowed me to witness the neighborhood’s fascinating internationalization. It has been extremely rewarding to contribute to the CAC’s growth, especially through teaching refugee youth and building connections in the community.
Aurora Schul, AmeriCorps ABLE Educational Coordinator I joined the VSLC in January 2012, serving as the AmeriCorps ABLE Educational Coordinator. My current position has allowed me to connect and build strong relationships with Buffalo State students during Alternative Spring Break Buffalo and while serving as a Service-Learning and Community Peer Leader supervisor. I also have been able to explore and connect with the Buffalo community while coordinating and developing after school programs in Riverside and on the West Side.
The VSLC Exchange is a regular publication of the Buffalo State College Volunteer and Service-Learning Center, keeping the campus and community informed!
VSLC at Buffalo State College Cleveland Hall 306, 1300 Elmwood Ave. Buffalo, New York 14222 Email: VSLC@buffalostate.edu Call: (716) 878-5811