July 13, 2011
Ah, the lazy days of summer. A chance to hit the beach, tackle an epic novel or hit the highway on a road trip. But not everyone thinks of summer as downtime. In fact, for some members of the Rollins community, summer presents the opportunity to build community connections and contribute to community initiatives. This year, the SummerSERVE program was launched to offer such opportunities.
As a collaborative endeavor with the Office of Community Engagement (OCE), Human Resources, Alumni Relations and several other offices, the program was designed to engage Rollins staff, faculty, students and alumni in meaningful service work projects throughout the summer.
“SummerSERVE gives everyone the opportunity to continue building meaningful relationships through direct service, community engagement and education,” said Meredith Hein, assistant director of community engagement. “Additionally, a goal of SummerSERVE is to enhance student success and retention by providing students the opportunity to build networks and connections during the summer months.”
Rollins Club of Boston
While not officially a SummerSERVE project, the summer of service kicked off in Boston where 10 Rollins alumni devoted Saturday, June 4 to scraping and painting two exhibits at Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo. With scrub brushes and paintbrushes, the crew tackled the Wild Porcupine and the Prairie Dog exhibits, at one point making a dash to Home Depot to buy more supplies.
“Franklin Park Zoo almost closed its doors last year due to financial problems and they only have a maintenance staff of five people to keep the entire zoo in shape,” said Emily Titone (Class of 1997), a member of the Rollins Club of Boston Regional Council. “The Rollins crew was very welcome.” Afterward, the alumni group joined zookeepers for a picnic lunch giving zoo staff the chance to share how thrilled they were to have the helping hands and how impressed they were by the positive attitudes and strong work ethic they’d witnessed that day.
Next it was back to Rollins’ own backyard where the first of three Central Florida SummerSERVE projects took flight. On June 30, 50 members of the Rollins Community arrived at Fern Creek Elementary to help the school get ready for the students’ return and to organize a clothes closet filled with donated children’s clothing items.
“Seeing this community of people come together, work as a group and complete all the various tasks set before them was inspirational,” shared Marissa Corrente, a summer intern with the Office of Community Engagement. “This event was successful because of all the participants' hard work. What a great way to begin this new initiative.”
AmeriCorps Vista Isaac Carpenter echoed Corrente’s enthusiasm. “The first SummerSERVE event was phenomenal. Between putting up new bulletin boards, organizing the mentor room, cutting tennis balls for the cafeteria chairs and many other projects, we made a great impact. I am so happy to be a part of this amazing initiative.”
On July 23, the second Central Florida SummerSERVE project will take place. With a focus on sustainability, this initiative will partner with Keep Winter Park Beautiful, a volunteer-based organization committed to Winter Park’s environment. Teams will visit a handful of local parks including Mead Garden where volunteers will plant native species, remove invasive species and take part in a general clean-up of the area. Staying true to the sustainability theme, project facilitators have asked volunteers to walk or bike to park sites. To participate in this project, visit http://www.wejoinin.com/sheets/jidtd.
|Fern Creek Clothing Closet
Photo by Isaac Carptenter
The third and final 2011 SummerSERVE project for Central Florida will take volunteers to Second Harvest Food Bank where 40 participants will be sorting food. This project was designed with the help of Dawn Nagy, associate director of alumni relations for the Crummer Graduate School of Business and recipient of the 2011 Thaddeus Seymour Award for Community Engagement. “I advocate on behalf of the poor, sick and hungry around the world,” shared Nagy. “Second Harvest is a wonderful example of a local organization that is doing so much to help those in need right here in Central Florida.” To register for the Second Harvest project on August 12, please visit http://www.wejoinin.com/sheets/mebnr
Involving the newly formed alumni chapters in SummerSERVE has gone over very well. “Alumni welcome the opportunity to continue Rollins’ service tradition long after graduation,” shared Assistant Director of Alumni Programs Elaine Liles. Currently eight chapters are established across the country and plans for four additional chapters are underway.
These regional chapters are designed to help foster and strengthen the bond between alumni and the College by providing meaningful opportunities for alumni to reconnect and meet fellow alumni in their local community. “On November 5, we will be asking our alumni chapters to join the Alumni Association in giving back to communities around the globe during our second Rollins Alumni Global Day of Service,” said Liles.
“When we first met to discuss organizing the local alumni chapter, several of us echoed the sentiment that we should include community service projects as part of our alumni events,” shared Amir Ladan (Class of 1994), co-chair for the Rollins Club of Central Florida Regional Council. “It was an idea that was well received by all in attendance in large part because of the experiences we all undoubtedly shared while at Rollins.”
Ladan has great memories of participating in events organized by Tau Kappa Epsilon benefitting the Special Olympics, providing food for the homeless through Circle K (Kiwanis International) and helping with Habitat for Humanity projects and fundraisers. “Service is in our hearts because it was a part of our collective Rollins experience,” he explained. “Through serving our community, we reconnect to the foundations we learned while students and we reinforce Rollins' commitment to community.”By Kristen Manieri