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COMMUNITY UCONNECTIONS The Office of Community Outreach Newsletter



Spring 2015 | Volume 12, Issue 2



Celebrating 20 Years of

Community Outreach Newsletter Contents


20th Anniversary Timeline, Ignite Competition


January, February Semester in Photos


March, April, May Semester in Photos


Recognition, Behind the Scenes of Transpo


Humans of Community Outreach


Impact Conference, Thank You to Exec Board

Public Relations Team Aileen Tobin Newsletter Director

Meredith Kuraska PR Specialist

Christina Honeycutt PR Staff Member

Steph Shirvell PR Specialist

Maschal Mohiuddin PR Coordinator

Yessame Alemu PR Specialist

On Sunday, May 3rd, Community Outreach celebrated 20 years of past and present achievements of the collective work and passion put into our organization by bringing together over 175 students, alumni, university staff and faculty, and community partners to the UConn-Storrs Student Union. The event provided an opportunity to reflect on the growth of Community Outreach over the past 20 years and to recognize and discuss the importance of service and leadership both within the UConn community and beyond.

Wendy Spencer, CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service.

Community Outreach was pleased to welcome the keynote speaker, Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation of National and Community Service (CNCS). CNCS is a federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund, and other programs that champion community solutions and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. Wendy spoke about the impact of service work at the national level and highlighted the need for continuous engagement with recent graduates into service work to assist with lowering unemployment and to support job training skills.

See more photos and info about our 20th anniversary! With support from Tyco SimplexGrinnell, Community Outreach announced a new scholarship that will be implemented next year to support students and groups engaged in service activities that enrich their learning and enhance the quality of life for others. The scholarship will help to decrease, or eliminate, financial barriers for individual students or groups of students interested in doing service. Community Outreach is excited to continue its collaboration with Tyco SimplexGrinnell to allow access for all students interested in doing service.


years of Community Outreach 2007-2008



The Office of Voluntary and Community Service, today known as the Office of Community Outreach, was established!

The first August training took place with 28 students and the Community of Practice (CoP) model was formalized. We now have 10 CoP’s and over 100 student leaders.


10 students participated in CO’s first “Urban Plunge” in Washington D.C., now known as “Alternative Breaks.”


by Carly Zerr ‘15

Jumpstart joins CO with 35 members - today there are 80. Give & Go initiative begins this year. First LGBTQ+ focused Alternative Break takes place with the Rainbow Center.


UConn was honored as the Katrina Compassion Award winner as a part of the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

This was Community Outreach’s third year competing in this fundraising challenge and this year as part of Community Outreach’s 20th Anniversary a new scholarship fund was created to make volunteer opportunities available to all UConn students. Program costs should never impact a student’s ability


Hoops of Hope, Careers for the Common Good, Dodging for Dollars, and the MLK Day of Service make their CO debuts!

to engage in meaningful service, so we have dedicated all our proceeds to this goal.

Ignite donation thermometer

Our marketing campaign this year was backed by 10 amazing and extremely hard working individuals that made up Community Outreach’s Ignite Committee. These students dedicated impressive amounts of time and effort to raise money for our cause, and I could not have imagined a better group of individuals to work with on this project. As a whole, our committee members valued their experiences in


Today, there are over 100 student leaders and 2,500 CO participants!!



gnite is a student led crowdfunding competition where students can come together to raise money for their favorite UConn causes. This Ignite competition consisted of 20 student-led organizations on campus competing for the grand prize of $5,000, as well as many other smaller prizes along the way.



CO Transpo hits the 176,000 mile mark driving participants to their service destinations! This was also the year CO won the Ignite Challenge for Alternative Break programs and UConn won the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll award!

made Community Outreach and it their goal to help ensure that, through our scholarships, other students would have access to the same life changing opportunities they experienced. Being part of Community Outreach has hands down been the most meaningful experience of my college career, changing my outlook on life and shaping my goals for my future. We raised over $10,000 to help ensure that every student has the opportunity to make this world a little bit better and for me that will always be enough. The Community Outreach Ignite team placed 2nd for total number of young alumni donors, and 1st overall for number of dollars raised. Thank you to all who supported this initiative!

Semester in Photos

JANUARY Costa Rica Alt Break

Participants went to Costa Rica for two weeks, building a storage facility for the local school and facilitating both English-language workshops and sustainability workshops focused on waste management and recycling.

Birmingham Alt Break

Participants went to Birmingham, Alabama to take part in various service projects while also exploring the roots of urban poverty and how it affects community members of many different backgrounds.

MLK Day of Service

100 participants started the semester off with service, reflection, and education for the national #MLKDay of Service.


From left: Staff and CO Alumni meet up for a UConn basketball game; Community Outreach co-sponsors the Careers for the Common Good Fair; Staff member Sara Cook and CO Alums Alice and Leanne meet up with the staff and students that presented/attended the IMPACT conference in CA.



MARCH Rising Star Award


One of our staff members, Ashley Hazleton, Program Coordinator for Alternative Breaks, received the “Rising Star Award” as a part of the University’s new UConn Spirit Awards!

Student leaders and volunteers embarked on Spring Break trips to the Gulf Coast, Immokale Florida, Mississipi, and beyond. See more pictures on the back!

Bobby Rizzuto, team leader for the Jumpstart program, was featured in an article in the Daily Campus.


Ignite Fundraising Day

Brandon, Alternative Break Student Leader and team member for the Ignite committee, encourages students to donate during Ignite Day in the Student Union.

CO Senior Dinner

Stomping out the R word

As part of the Spread the Word to End the Word, President Herbst joined a few student leaders in stomping out the R-word.


A senior dinner was held for all student leaders graduating this year. We would like to congratulate the following seniors and wish them luck in their future endeavours!

Aileen Haque Aileen Tobin Andrew Bi Andrew Klock Angela Sorensen Angelique Torres Ashley Frink Audrey Kelley Benjamin Smith Brandon St. Jean Bryan Swenson Student leaders and volunteers embarked Carly Davis on several weekend break trips to Carly Zerr Providence, Boston, and New York.

Christina Cook Christine Butler Danielle Todd Derek Evans Elisabeth Kurzawa Emily Ferguson Emily Gauthier Erica Sheltry Evan Jean-Guillaume Helen Ghebrehiwet Jacob Najarian Jameson Casey John Gerrity

Husky Classic

Julie Landino Katherine Lainas Kelly Mclaughlin Kelsey Dutta Krista Pregony Kristina Dortche Laura Censi Lauren Lagassie Maschal Mohiuddin Meredith Glick Michael Roberts Mollie Mendes Natalie Vieira

Nicole Biatowas Pahola Almonte Peter Ruffino Robert Rizzuto Robert Joyce Rosemary Richi Samuel Lambert Sarah Purtill Shilpa Kolli Yessame Alemu

Facing Poverty in Our Midst: Past, Present, Future

Thirty-two traditional and Unified Sports teams participated in Special Olympics CT’s annual soccer divisioning tournament hosted by UConn on Saturday. This is a qualifying event for the Summer Games, coming up June 5-7.



Access Agency Commemorated 50th Anniversary with Forum at UConn



February: Jonathan Zazzaro March: Isabel Ashwood April: Tommy Ryan

February: Aileen Tobin, Newsletter Director Stephanie Condori, Schedule Manager March: Jacob Narjaran, Jumpstart – Team Leader April: Erika Sturgis, Unified Sports and Arts Assistant Program Director

Jonathan Zazzaro, Driver of the Year

Carly Zerr, Student Leader of the Year

PROGRAMS OF THE MONTH/YEAR February: Mystery Alt Break, Brandon St. Jean and Meredith Glick March: Windham High Tutoring. Brenna Conrad April: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Erin Larkin

UConn Brooklyn Collaborative, Program of the Year

VOLUNTEERS OF THE MONTH 4H Vernon Emma Huntington Stephen Hutchingson America Reads at Kinsella Emily Sebesky Sabrina Maher America Reads at Southeast Tess Dever Grayson Clapp

America Reads at Willington Joy Sgobbo Samantha Holder Emma Mills Big Brothers Big Sisters - Windham Middle School Siddharth Mohan

Food Recovery Raza Zaidi

Campus Connections Megan Rugar

Holy Family Shelter Sarah Fuller

Collegiate Health Service Corps Xiao Li

Jumpstart Jenna Stone Caroline Calandro

Generation Family Health Clinic Brock Chimileski Generations Connect Renee Fredette

MYS COPE Manchester Area Conference of Churches (Southeast) Peter Dang Karen Marin Josee Rockwell Laurel Gibson Mansfield Middle School Tutoring MYS COPE (Vinton) Jake Mule Sofia Wall Travis Karas MYS Big Friends Kelly DeMeo Nathan Hale James Teardo Homework Club James Cavalcante Jake Sauriol MYS COPE (Goodwin) Lauren Chapman Nicole Kesner

UConn Brooklyn Collaborative Meredith Pinto Divya Kamireddi Diego Briones Windham Heights Tutoring Program Lanissa Gardner David Benedetti Windham High School Tutoring John Meyers Windham Hospital Volunteer Program Chevaughn Wellington

TRANSPO BEHIND THE SCENES by Shayna Sexton ‘16, NEAG Working for Community Outreach Transportation means that you get to help people provide meaningful service all around our community and give people the ability to volunteer and make a difference. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes with Transpo to be able to help everyone get to their sites. We have a schedule manager who receives all of the requests from CO programs. She has to put all of those requests on vans and create “shifts” where she incorporates different programs that fit in well to make a time block that a driver can be assigned. She has to make sure that

they are organized and that we have drivers available for the shifts, it’s like putting together a very complicated puzzle. We also have a driver/schedule manager to make sure all the vehicles are maintained and safe to operate. The driver/vehicle manager also ensures that all of the drivers (both paid and volunteer) are trained and comfortable operating the vans as safety is our number one concern. We all work very hard to make sure that all the volunteers can get to their sites every single week and work with changes to schedules. Another behind the scenes piece is the on-call phone that one of the three managers has at any time the office

is not open (5pm-8am). We rotate who has the on call phone during the weekdays and then for a whole weekend one manager has the phone and is responsible for being available at any and every hour of the day. We rotate which weekends we will take the phone and make sure that we are on campus the whole weekend. Those are just some of the ways we make transportation work, but it wouldn’t work without all of the volunteers and their dedication. We love what we do and that we are able to provide such an amazing service to our school and our community! Thanks for all the wonderful service you all do and inspiring all of us at Transpo!

Humans of CO

Inspired by Humans of NY and in honor of Community Outreach’s 20th Anniversary, we shared 20 stories of people that are a part of CO throughout the year. #UConnCO20

Jumpstart Read for the Record Participant “Did you like the book and activity?” She enthusiastically nodded her head and smiled! October 21, 2014 marked Jumpstart’s national campaign, Read for the Record, an effort to celebrate literacy and early childhood education. NYC Alternative Break Participants “The NYC alternative break was very powerful because we broke down previous stigmas we had about HIV, sex, and drug users. We focused on the idea that being HIV positive is only one aspect of someone’s identity despite the fact that society generally focuses on that specific aspect. “

Sean and Yessame, Cross Cultural Connections Participants Sean: “I am a Chinese studentnand I prioritize studying, so seeing Yessame doing programs like this inspired me. Why not take a small step now, in college, to serve the community?” Laura, UConn ‘14 “This experience has helped me grow both professionally as an educator and personally as an individual. I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity and feel so lucky to have been a part of Community Outreach and the UConn Office of Leadership Programs which have both given me the confidence to achieve all that I’ve done.”

Gina, Associate Director for Community Outreach “I have an opportunity to work with the best and brightest students, who will go on to become future change leaders. It’s an opportunity to help shape our future every day.” Ada, Administrative Assistant for Community Outreach “When I came to work in CO in 2009 I wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t know I’d be working with so many outstanding students. I love it when they stop by my desk just to say ‘Hi’ and see how my day is going. Pahola, Student Leader, Big Brothers Big Sisters “When I was younger I was solely focused on my relationship with my Big and how she positively impacted my life. Because of her I made it my goal to come to UConn and want to help others. But now that I am a Big and in a student leader role, I can now see how big of an impact this program can really have and who it reaches.” Brianne, Volunteer, Brooklyn Collaborative “My most impactful moment in the program so far was the response I got when I told one student ‘it doesn’t matter where you’ve been, it matters where you’re going.’” The student told her he had never heard that before, and it was in that moment that she felt she made an impact - but says they’ve impacted her just as much.



Impact Conference by Owen Hart, CLAS ‘17

As the current Program Director for the Collegiate Health Service Corps (CHSC) I had an opportunity this year to work with CHSC’s Site Managers, Esther Oak and Risa Kiernan. CHSC is an organization that works to bring health education to medically underserved communities around the Storrs area. Technology plays a pivotal role in the day to day management and organization of our 30+ participants who bring their health lessons to multiple service sites. Drawing on this experience, Esther, Risa, and I chose to facilitate a workshop this past February at the national IMPACT conference that focused on the application of technology to participant management. IMPACT is an annual conference, held this year at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, that aims to “connect, educate, and mobilize college students, nonprofit professionals, and educators to strengthen

their communities through service, action, and advocacy.” Our workshop attracted many experienced and well informed university staff and students who work all over the nation which allowed for a very successful discussion that provided useful tips for both audience members and facilitators. Community Outreach has played a significant role in my progression as a social justice activist on and off campus. On top of fostering exploration within the more niche areas of our specific service organizations, Community Outreach gives its student leaders and participants the invaluable chance to explore and learn about multiple areas of involvement and I learned a lot at IMPACT. For example, I was able to learn more about: education equity from Teach for America representatives, national and global humanitarianism from Oxfam reps, and how to actually get involved in the nonprofit world post-graduation. This was on top of further exploring workshops

covering health equity and program management topics that directly relate to CHSC. I know that this learning, and the connections I was able to establish ,will be very impactful with my continued involvement as a CO student leader and as I continue to plan for the future. For that, I will be forever grateful that Community Outreach supports and encourages its student leaders to present at and attend IMPACT each year. Additional Community Outreach Student Leaders also facilitated two other workshops at IMPACT this year. Carly Zerr, Andrew Klock, Brandon St. Jean, Meaghan Lynch and Meredith Glick presented on the subject of making sustainable impact on the community and individual level during Alternative Breaks. Sarah Purtill facilitated a structured exploration of participants’ cultural identities and values with the aim of generating a discussion around strategies to better serve the interests of communities with different identities and values.

Thank you 2014-2015 Student Leader Exec Board!



KFS 3124570

University of Connecticut Office of Community Outreach Department of Student Activities 2110 HILLSIDE ROAD, UNIT 3008 STORRS, CT 06269-3008 PHONE 860.486.1165 FAX 860.486.8821 /UConnOutreach



Spring 2015 CO Newsletter  
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