Summer 2011

A Bi-Monthly Newsletter of the Siena College Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy’s Office of Academic Community Engagement

Summer Leadership Institute at Siena College Bonner Travel Highlights New VISTA Fellows Academic Service Learning Fall Preview



ACE Summer in Review
Summer was as busy as ever for the Office of Academic Community Engagement. We said goodbye to our 2010-2011 Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellows Team. We are so proud of their impact and the legacies that they left at their community partner organizations during their service-year. As soon as we said goodbye we welcomed a brand new team of VISTA Fellows, including five returning Siena VISTAs. Our team is already off to a great start, continuing work at our existing community partner sites and forging relationships with new ones. This summer we went all over the country - China, India, Maine, New Jersey, Canada, Oregon and Louisiana - for conferences and service trips. Highlighted in this newsletter are Bonner international stories of service in impoverished areas of India and national stories of rural poverty in Northern Maine and Canada. A number of 2010-2011 Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellows traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana for the Corporation for National and Community Service’s annual National Conference on Volunteering and Service. We also hosted people from all over the country at Siena College for the Bonner Foundation’s annual Bonner Summer Leadership Institute. Over 400 participants from 80 colleges in the Bonner Foundation’s network came to this four day conference that focused on building sustainable community partnerships and enhancing professional skills through workshops facilitated by experts in the field. Our ten week Summer Service Associates Program was successful, with almost 30 members placed in five of our community partner sites. Three of our Summer Service Associates were camp counselors for our first ever Civic Engagement Camp for high school students. We recruited over 20 participants who learned about key community issues and strategies to address them in two week-long sessions. We had a great summer and I hope you enjoy reading all of our service activities as we continue to fulfill our mission of “building a world that is more just, peaceable and humane.”

Siena Summer Service Associates and Civic Engagement Camp Counselors posing for the Civic Engagement Camp flyer that went out to local area high


school students.

Jennifer Simek
Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader Coordinator of ACE Public Relations




Bonner Service Leaders Meghan O’Mara ’12 and Melanie Iannacone ’12 in India, posing with children at the Association for Peoples with Disabilities.

Bonners Serve in In!a
This past June marked a new chapter in the history of the Siena Bonner Service Leaders Program - six members went across the world to India and spent five weeks interning at several non-profit organizations in and around the city of Bangalore. These included the Association for Peoples with Disabilities (APD), the Domestic Worker’s Movement, and Emmaus Hospital. Stephanie Belmont ’12, Jensen Daniel ’13, Melanie Iannacone ’12, Meghan O’Mara ’12, Sophia PierreCharles ’12 and Bernadette Schmidt ’13 each participated in a fruitful and enriching experience, getting a firsthand opportunity to not only grow professionally, but also become more culturally aware of a country that is so unlike their own. This experience enabled them to fulfill one of their Bonner six common commitments of “International Perspective,” while opening their eyes to the rest of the world, rather than confining themselves to just our borders. Each student was placed in a site based on their major and career aspirations. Jensen and Bernadette, who are both pre-med students, did hands on work with Emmaus Hospital. They worked with leprosy patients, an experience they never would have had in the United

States. Sophia, a Psychology major, worked with people who are domestic workers living in the slums of Bangalore. They listened to their brave stories of work. The majority of the people she talked to were abused both physically and sexually by their employers. Stephanie, who aspires to be a Speech Therapist after Siena, worked with the speech therapist at APD. She gained a new perspective on the profession that she would not have gotten in the United States. Melanie, who is considering being a teacher, lead classes at APD and created lessons for the students. Meghan, who is a history major, investigated the history of discrimination towards people with disabilities in India. She had the opportunity to film a documentary for the school. Each student took away something from their internship that will help mold the rest of their education and lay down the foundation for their future careers.



An Experience I Thought I Would Never Have: A Reflection On My Service in India
By Meghan O’Mara ’13, Siena Bonner Service Leader I finally signed the paper. I couldn’t believe it. My signature on this contract allowed me to go halfway across the world to India, a country I never in my wildest dreams imagined going to. I was going to volunteer with the Association for People with Disabilities (APD), an organization that offers a host of programs for people with disabilities. These include job training, rehabilitation services and a school within the organization. I knew this experience was going to change my life forever. In India, sitting in the Association for People with Disabilities (APD) on my first day, I enjoyed a traditional Indian dish that consisted of white rice and sambar (a vegetable stew) while two women, who I couldn’t understand, continued to put food on my plate even though I was extremely full. Amongst all the chaos, I ironically felt right at home. After I finished my lunch, I was immediately put to work as a tutor in the Shradhanjali Integrated School in Standard 6 (equivalent to sixth grade). Even though all the children spoke English, I helped them fine tune their English speaking and reading skills. I also created a

documentary about the organization to show their volunteers and any other visitors of APD. The next five weeks at APD would be some of the most eye-opening times of my life. Although we have many organizations here in the United States that may seem identical, APD is based in a society that looks down on those who are mentally or physically handicapped. Due to cultural and religious traditions, those who are born with some kind of disability or develop one later in life, are considered inferior to ablebodied members of India because they cannot “contribute” to the community. This is something that has become deeply ingrained in Indian society but APD works hard to reverse this perspective. I came into the organization with the hope that I could help out in my little way, but it was I who benefited more from this trip than the APD and the school. In my five weeks spent there I learned more than I would have in a year at Siena. I met some of the strongest and most perseverant people that I will ever encounter. Never have I seen such a vibrant spirit and vivacity present in children. They truly were an amazing inspiration and I continue to think about them every day. I wish the best for all of them and I know that they will do great things in life. The people I met in India have left a permanent imprint on my heart and I hope to continue this wonderful and fruitful partnership with APD into the coming years.


Bonner Service Leader Meghan O’Mara ’12 taking a moment to pose with two children she served in India.


Bonners Serve in Maine and Canada
1st Year Bonners Learn About Rural Poverty While Doing Service Projects in Maine and Canada
By Jonathan Catrona ’14, Bonner Service Leader This past August, Siena Bonner Service Leaders who, just completed their first year in the Bonner Program, traveled to rural Maine and Canada. Since Siena Bonners work in areas of urban poverty, this service trip allowed them to experience a different kind of poverty, rural poverty. While on their service trip, Bonner students served at various non-profits in the surrounding area such as Maine School Administrative District #1 Educational Farm and Catholic Charities of Maine. The Educational Farm gave students a look at the complexity behind an agricultural system by gathering common crops like blueberries. On the other side, Catholic Charities gave students the chance to work in a local thrift store and interact with the local population. This experience was

very rewarding for the students and will be the focus of a sociology course this fall semester at Siena College. For the first week of the trip, students received a spending allowance of only $10 dollars. This poverty simulation gave students a unique perspective of life below the poverty threshold. It was extremely difficult because Bonner students had only the funding to purchase the absolute essentials. At the end of the service trip, the Bonner students left with a unique service experience and each had their own reflection about their activities. Each Bonner student also saw the trip as a great opportunity to serve, bond, and grow as a cohort of service leaders. Clearly, this experience will be one that these Bonner students will never forget. Learn more about the 1st Year Bonner Service Trip to Maine and Canada and other Bonner favorite moments by visiting our blog, Also, visit to listen to past episodes of our weekly radio show Change Makers for more stories on the 1st Year Bonner Service Trip.


1st Year Bonner group shot at Maine ‘s Presque Isle High School.

1st Year Bonner Service Leader Team Posing With...


Fir" Year Service T#p Reflections
“The first year service trip to Maine was much more than a simple service trip; I learned to respect, appreciate and love everyone of my fellow Bonners.” - Claudia Congemi ’14 “The first year service trip proved to be a test of my personal boundaries, my ability to connect with my fellow Bonners, and my overall understanding of service and why we serve.”

- Laura Priest ’14
“Not only did the first year service trip embrace the core values and ideals of what it means to be a Bonner, but it also allowed us to come to the realization that we are a family united by love for societies’ underprivileged and love for each other.” - Timothy Golden ’13 “The service project showed me that a person should try to open up to others because it can lead to greater understanding.” - Jonathan Catrona ’14 “The first year experience helped me bond with my fellow Bonners and made me realize that stereotypes are a disease that destroys human kind.” - Lydie Kengne ’14 “The Maine trip was awesome, not only did it challenge us by exposing us to things outside of our comfort zone, but it also allowed us to selfreflect and grow.” - Jahnna Rymer ’13 “The Maine trip really opened my eyes to a new world; it tested my personal boundaries, allowed me to connect with other Bonners, and it taught me about life outside of an urban setting.” - Suzanne

Livingston ’14
“My first year experience in Maine made me realize how close of a family the Bonners actually are, and they have all made me realize how much I love them.” - Ryan Gonnelly ’14



Pieces of % Movement:

May 31 - June 3, 2011

The Franciscan Tradition Connects to the National Service Movement at the Bonner Foundation’s Summer Leadership Institute at Siena College
At the end of May, Siena College and the Office of Academic Community Engagement (ACE) welcomed the Bonner Foundation and over 400 administrator, faculty, staff, Bonner students, and partner representatives from 80 colleges and universities in the Bonner Network. After months of planning, the annual Bonner Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) was a great success. Participants walked away from the institute remarking that this year’s SLI was the best one that they have attended in 10 years. SLI provided participants with learning and professional development opportunities through workshop tracks. This year, SLI offered tracks that engaged participants in strategizing ways to strengthen the quality and work of campuscommunity service efforts. The institute was also a great opportunity to showcase how the Franciscan Tradition connects to service on a national level. Bonner students had several tracks to choose from, including the Bonner Congress, the Bonner Senior and Community Impact Interns, and the All Bonner Service tracks. For the All Bonner Service track, a group of 45 Bonner students were matched with five engaging community community partner projects at Grand Street Community Arts, Homeless and Travelers Aid Society, Green Tech High Charter School, North Albany Academy, and Camp Scully. The Bonner Administrators and full-time AmeriCorps/VISTA members participated in their own track that focused on building and strengthening their programs and sharing best practices. Some workshops, led by Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellows, focused on marketing, grant writing, and building effective mentoring programs. Local high school students from Green Tech High Charter school came to Siena’s campus and participated in a College Access Panel. They learned all about the college application process. Participants also networked and participated in fun social activities. At every SLI gathering there is a Bonner Talent Showcase which is always a huge hit. Participants were also encouraged to participate in Lobby Day with and to go off-campus and explore the Capital District community. By the end of the four day institute, everyone was sad to say goodbye. In the closing session, the Bonner Foundation thanked Siena College and ACE for their help in planning and hosting the conference. Gretchen Mielke, Assistant Director of ACE/Bonner Service Leaders Program, was especially thanked for her hard work as well as the Siena Bonner Service Leaders who played a large role in the success of the institute. To officially close out the conference, the Siena Bonner Service Leaders stood up in front of the audience and sang together Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” and encouraged everyone to join in. It was a great way to end the successful institute.



Bonner Service Summer Reflections
Bonner. Love. Siena Bonner Becomes a Family at SLI
April Risley ’12, Siena Bonner Service Leader Bonner. Love. When I think of a National Network of Bonner Colleges and Universities all over the United States, those are the two words that come to mind. Bonner. Love. It wasn’t until the end of my freshman year and my very first experience at the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) 2009 at Stetson University in Deland, Florida that I began to realize just how powerful those two words are. Now, six conferences later and travels to Florida, Virginia, Kentucky, Kansas and New Jersey, I was able to witness the power of those words right here on Siena’s campus. At SLI 2011, “The Pieces of the Movement” at Siena College, I witnessed our thirty Bonners become a Bonner Family. While people from all over the country shared ideas about social justice and community engagement, the Siena College Bonner Service Leaders overcame their fears of public speaking, personal obstacles and learned to trust one another. If there were cliques or groups within groups before SLI, those no longer continued to exist beyond those five extensive nights and days that we spent together. This trust and sense of family was felt not only by our group, but also by all the participants in the conference who made comments such as “Wow, your Bonners work really well together” and “I just wanted to say that SLI 2011 was the best Bonner conference I’ve ever been to, and it was my 10th one. You all did an amazing job.” The feedback we received during and after the conference was amazing. Without each and every Siena Bonner and the bonds that were created, the conference would not have been such a success!

National Bonner Foundation Summer Internship
Michelle Campbell ’13, Siena Bonner Service Leader I always imagined the Bonner Foundation to be this dream castle of service-oriented people who could create change with the flick of a wand. Being selected as a Bonner Congress Representative my freshmen year, my first time getting to meet some of these mystical Kings and Queens was at Bonner Congress in Richmond, Virginia. The conference’s impact was truly tremendous. For the first time, I was inspired to do service not only because of my inherent need to serve others, but because I knew I had a network of students all across the country working beside me. As time has gone on, I’ve participated in a handful of conferences and have even been able to plan some of them (Inspire 2010 &


SLI 2011). These experiences along with my work at the Foundation this past summer have helped me to visualize our kingdom of service. From student speeches at conferences, Bonner Video Project clips, newsletter stories, student-generated issue briefs, and trainings developed by Bonner schools, it is clear that our Bonner network is comprised of equally outstanding Kings and Queens of social justice. During my two plus months at the Foundation as a PolicyOptions Intern, I was able to lay the groundwork for policy-focused think-tanks on Bonner campuses. Combining a new source digest with issue briefs, these student-run groups will be able to track the progress of issues relevant to his or her local community, state-wide community, and national community. The treasure-troves of our Bonner Kingdom, these PolicyOptions teams will launch the beginning of a (hopefully) very fulfilling and sustainable relationship with our global community.



New VISTA Fellows posing for a “V is For VISTA” photo during lunch at Albany’s Washington Park. The new team arrived the first week of August.

One AmeriCorps*VISTA Service Year Ends and Another Begins
This summer the Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellows Program went through a huge transition. We said goodbye to the 2010-2011 cohort of VISTA Fellows at the end of July and said hello to a brand new one at the beginning of August. At one of our last staff meetings for the 2010-2011 cohort we gave each Siena VISTA Fellow a chance share what they will be doing after their year of service. Many of our VISTA Fellows are moving on to some exciting opportunities. James Shultis, placed at Grand Street Community Arts, got promoted to Executive Director. Ariel Palter, placed at Siena’s Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women, moved on to a Peace Corps position in Mozambique, Africa. Samantha Tymchyn, placed at Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless, started a Master’s Program at Colombia University. We are also excited to announce that two of our VISTA Leaders, Patrick Gruber and Nefisah Sallim, moved on to professional positions with the Bonner Foundation. There are many more success stories,

whether that is a VISTA getting hired by their service site, signing on for another service year, landing a professional job, moving on to a new national service opportunity, or going back to graduate school. We are truly proud and acknowledge how much they have grown professionally this year with the help of the Siena VISTA Program and our community partners. In August, we welcomed a brand new team of VISTA Fellows. This year, we have a total of 25, including 3 VISTA Leaders. We also welcomed several new community partners, including Brighter Choice Middle School for Girls, Albany’s District Attorney’s Office, Albany Barn, Hope 7, and many more. The first week of August, Assistant Director of the Siena VISTA Fellows Program, Yalitza Negron, and VISTA Leaders Victoria Malaney, Ryan Rose, and returning Leader Jennifer Simek, led a week-long VISTA On-Site Orientation Training. At the training, new VISTA Fellows learned about Siena College and the Capital District Community, the Siena College VISTA Fellows Program, and all the activities they will be involved in this year. We are excited to work closely with all of them this year.



Straight from % VISTAs
Hope 7 Community Center in Troy, New York
By John DeCirce ’11, Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellow My service site is Hope 7 Community Center in Troy, NY. We provide the people in Troy with emergency food assistance and also an after school program which takes the form of a summer fun program when school isn’t in session. The pantry, located in the lower level of the United Methodist Church, provides emergency food assistance for people living in the east side of Troy, such as North Greenbush and Griswold Heights. They will, however, serve anyone from anywhere if in dire circumstances for a one time emergency need. At the pantry, we also give clothes and hygienic items especially baby products such as diapers that can be very expensive. My role at the pantry is to expand the services we can provide to the clients. I have done this by making connections to groups such as a free cancer-screening group and legal advising group. This way we will be able to meet needs that we couldn’t address in the standard format of a food pantry. Our after school program runs the entire school term for children grades 1 to 6, providing them with a healthy meal and bolstering their knowledge with tutoring, clubs, and skill learning such as math and writing. My focus for this program is to help bring in teachers who would be interested in volunteering their time to help foster our community’s youth into a more aware and prepared adult. I have made connections in both our adjacent community as well as in other sections of Troy with community members interested in just that. So far my experience has been amazing. I have learned to work with multiple groups realizing that they all have separate needs and I will do my best to meet them.

Hope 7 Community Center occupies a beautiful, historic firehouse on Pawling Avenue in Troy, NY.



Serving With the Albany County District Attorney’s Office
By Brian Costello ’11, Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellow I’ve only just begun my year of service as a VISTA at the Albany County DA’s office and I can already tell that it’s going to be both of two things: a constant challenge, and one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. And it didn’t take me very long to learn this first-hand. My office is situated in the Major Offenses Bureau and it’s not uncommon for me to hear office conversations about alarming accounts of violence and drug abuse. I’ve heard cases about domestic violence in front of children, gruesome stabbings, and teenage drug abuse. The list goes on, and on, and I’ve only been here for a few weeks. While District Attorney David Soares is, as a rule, concerned very much with prosecuting Albany County’s main offenders, he also has a real passion for striking the crime problem at its source: childhood. The youth of Albany are exposed to violence and crime every day, and the DA’s office works hard to ensure that these kids aren’t raised on guns and drugs and instead school supplies and aspiration. This is where I come in. In the background of all of those startling office conversations, back in my cubicle, I’m working on a more efficient database to help DA investigators, CPS, and Probation make sure kids are attending school regularly. I’m calling, e-mailing, and setting up meetings with youth organizations, trying to create a city-wide trolley route that makes sure every kid has access to every after school program in the area. I can’t stress enough that this is only my first few weeks, and I can hardly imagine or wait for what else lies in store this year.

Connecting Siena VISTA with other VISTA Programs in New York
By Ryan Rose ’10, Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader

Excitement is the one word I would use to describe the feeling of joining the Office of Academic Community Engagement team an AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader. Previous VISTA Leader, Patrick Gruber, left some big shoes to fill but luckily I have an amazing team that has helped me settle into this new position. As Coordinator of VISTA State and National Partnerships, I’ll be working diligently to connect the Siena College VISTA Fellows Program to VISTA programs in the Capital Region and across New York State. For me this is a very exciting position and already our office has been reaching out to other VISTAs in the area. The response back from our fellow VISTAs in New York has been strong. The Siena College VISTA Fellows have formed a Networking Event Committee and we have been putting together our first event this fall. The strong response back from our fellow VISTAs across the state has been inspiring and we hope for this to be a great way for the Siena Community, Siena VISTA Fellows, and VISTAs from across the state to make strong connections and lay the foundation for future collaborations. Our goal is to also offer other VISTAs opportunities to partake in the richness of the Siena VISTA Fellows Program. Since the program is housed in the Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy we have much to offer and a well established network of good. The level of issues facing the world today is overwhelming and one person can’t take them all on. The teams we have now and are continuing to build will undoubtedly make significant changes this year. I’m excited to be part of this group that is working to create a more just and peaceable world. Go VISTA!



The Emergency Shelter at Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless
By Erika Cary, Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellow When I tell people that I work in a homeless shelter, their face automatically turns to one of confusion and perplexity. While I can understand where they are coming from, as I was once in that position also, I see it as a great learning experience. Interfaith provides a variety of services for individuals, from those who are facing homelessness to those who are currently homeless. Our services currently in place include: a 30 person emergency shelter, a drop in center, permanent housing and a summer youth program. I specifically work in the emergency shelter, along with the majority of the Interfaith staff. To go over all our programs and services would take a least four pages, therefore I will focus on the emergency shelter. At our emergency shelter, we have thirty beds for adult men and women over the age of 18. We are one of the few shelters in Albany where people can in fact stay in the shelter during the day. The individuals at the shelter need to be referred by Homeless and Travelers Aid Society (HATAS) or the Department of Social Services (DSS) before they can receive a bed in the shelter. When individuals come here they receive: case management services, two lockers, bedding, laundry services, life development skill training, medical help through our nurse and three meals a day. There is a shelter attendant here 24 hours a day and security both inside and outside of the building. My title here is Marketing Coordinator, and I work closely with the Director of Development on particular projects and outreach. My overall goal is to create sustainable partnerships within the community by educating them on what Interfaith is and how they can help. Some projects I am working on include: Stomp Out Homelessness at Siena, recruiting volunteers, updating social media and being adaptable to any project that come my way!

Serving With Brighter Choice Middle School for Girls
By Odalina Duran, Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellow People have always said that every journey, big or small, changes the traveler. Even though I just began my AmeriCorps VISTA journey I’ve had a plethora of enriching learning experiences during Pre-Service Orientation (PSO), On-Site Orientation Training (OSOT) and at my site - Brighter Choice Middle School for Girls (BCMS), hence I feel like a different person already. At BCMS I’ve done a lot of research about our history and our mission. In addition, I’ve had the opportunity to research single-gender education as well as the role of charter schools in the United State and more specifically in Albany. More importantly I’ve met all of the staff members as well as a good number of students and parents. These interpersonal interactions have really helped me understand that every member of the BCMS community is extremely important as well as passionate about ensuring the continuos success of BCMS. The teaching-staff is an essential aspect of the BCMS community given that not only do they want to help these students succeed academically, but they also want to lead after-school activities. Even though I’m very excited about helping teachers create and facilitate these after-school programs, I really hope to build longlasting partnerships with organization in the Albany metropolitan area. For example, this year I’d like to create a partnership with the Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women to either implement a mentoring program or a program that would help these girls develop a positive self-image. Lastly, I would love to organize an exchange program with another school, preferably abroad. Through this particular experience I hope to open their eyes to another culture and excite them about exploring the unknown, finding out more about the world and themselves.



Siena Summer Service Associates Program a Great Success for the 2nd Year in a Row
The Summer Service Associate Program at Siena College invites college students from the Capital Region and across to country to “fight poverty with passion” in the same manner as Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellows, except for a 10-week term from June to August. For a second summer in a row, we had a great group of Summer Service Associates helping to solve key community issues in the Capital Region. Their service sites included partner organizations Grand Street Community Arts, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany, Camp Scully, and the Siena College Civic Engagement Camp. During the 10-week term, participants focused on direct service projects while others focused on indirect service projects. As a group, they also participated in biweekly staff meetings and trainings at Siena College that enhanced their professional skills. Some of the trainings included grant writing, using video to highlight service, and discovering your leadership style. At the end of the 10-week term, the Summer Service Associates came together for an end of service celebration. For all of them, it was truly a summer of service to remember.

What was your proudest accomplishment?
“Successfully planning my community policing program for high school students” - Ashley Farrell “Seeing that all my hard work had paid off when the campers arrived and were interested in participating in my portion of the camp.” - Kiara Peeples “Having the confidence to lead and motivate a group of children while receiving their respect.” - Emily Punch “During a creative writing assignment, a camper created a superhero that ate garbage to help protect the earth!”

- Rachel Linehan
“Being trusted to take the lead on new clients and manage their cases with little assistance.” - Alison Baxter



Brighter Choice Middle School for Girls
By Jennifer Simek, Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader Brighter Choice Middle School for Girls (BCMS-G), located just off of Central Avenue in Albany, is one of Academic Community Engagement’s newest community partners. BCMS-G welcomed their first Siena VISTA Fellow Odalina Duran in August and she is working on developing dynamic and engaging after school activities for the middle school girls. Her Site Supervisor, Evaluz Negron, a Social Worker at BCMS-G, will be working closely with her this year to help establish the after school programs. BCMS-G was established in January 2010 to fulfill an expressed community need for a continuation of single gender education following Brighter Choice elementary schools. BCMS-G is the only all girls school in the City of Albany and provides differentiated education to the students. Ms. Negron joined BCMS-G its first year as a founding school in August 2010. To Ms. Negron, “Working with developing adolescent girls inspires me. They are at a critical age and begin to find themselves and form individual identities at this time. Knowing I am here to guide and support them is a fulfilling experience.” A proud moment for Ms. Negron and the faculty and staff at BCMS-G was when the charter was approved to operate as an all girls middle school. Their hopes for BCMS-G is that the girls will become top performing middle school students while developing character and increased self confidence. BCMS-G just moved to a beautiful new building on Elk Street and they are now settling in to a new academic year. The Office of Academic Community Engagement is excited to work with them this year. Since the submission of this article, Evaluz Negron has accepted a new position and will be leaving Brighter Choice Middle School for Girls. We wish her all the best of luck in her new endeavor!

To learn more about Brighter Choice Charter Schools, visit and also look out for a future column from Siena VISTA Fellow Odalina Duran, who is currently serving at Brighter Choice.


Front entrance of Brighter Choice Charter School for Girls on Central Avenue.



Civic Engagement Camp participants do service at the Grand Street Community Arts Youth Organics program.

Siena’s Civic Engagement Camp for High School Students a Great Success
This summer, the Office of Academic Community Engagement (ACE) hosted a group of local area high school students in the first ever Civic Engagement Camp. Ruth Scipione, the Office of ACE Academic Service Learning Coordinator, planned and organized the camp, which took place as two week-long sessions from July 11-22. The students participated in morning learning sessions and afternoon service projects. The Civic Engagement Camp was led by three undergraduates students in our 10 week Summer Service Associates Program. Our Summer Service Associates (SSAs) Brian Dorrian, Kiara Peeples, and Ashley Farrell each had a service project in which the high school students could choose to participate. Kiara Peeples partnered with Youth Organics at Grand Street Community Arts and the high school students learned about the food deserts and urban gardening. Brian partnered with Siena’s WVCR studios and also with Latino Magazine. The high school students learned about media while creating two radio broadcasts to raise awareness about diabetes and kidney health as well as gun violence. Ashley partnered with the Albany Police Department and the high school students helped the department on a research project to benefit new community policing initiatives. One of the Bonner Service Leaders, Ryan Gonnelly, helped our three SSAs throughout the camp, taking photos and video, helping out with the different service projects, and providing any additional support where it was needed. The Civic Engagement Camp 15 was a success and we look forward to doing it again next year!


ASL Fall Preview

Recipients of this year’s ASL Course Design Award!

Dr. Marcela Garcés (Spanish) | Class - SPAN 301: Communications in Spanish I | Partner Latino Magazine

Dr. Garcés students will be working with Latino Magazine researching Latino demographics and highlighting services in Spanish in the Capital Region to be published in Latino Magazine and its partner website. This experience will help her Spanish students practice their Spanish with a diverse group of Spanish speakers and will also give them a solid understanding of who Latino’s are in the Capital Region.
Dr. Shannon O’Neill (Women’s Studies) | Class - WSTU 300: Sexual Assault & Peer Advocacy | Partner - Albany County Crime Victims and Sexual Violence Center

Dr. O’Neill’s students will learn about the topic of sexual assault and peer advocacy. Students will be trained as sexual assault volunteers and will go on to volunteer for the rape crisis hotline and conduct research to help this organization improve its volunteer recruitment and retention strategies.
Dr. Karen Boswell (Psychology) | Class - PSYC 490: HNRS Addiction | Partner - Peter Young Housing, Industries & Treatment

What is the cost of not treating someone with addiction? Dr. Boswell’s class will explore this question through in-depth study of different models of addiction and one-on-one interactions with individuals recovering from addiction. As mentors, these students will learn about the clinical, economic, and interpersonal effects of addiction. The information they gather will help this organization educate the community on the issue of addiction and further its mission to prevent incarceration through housing and treatment.
Dr. Kate Meierdiercks (Environmental Studies) | Class - ENVA 460: GIS Environmental Applications | Partners - Grand Street Community Arts, Habitat for Humanity, The Town of Clifton Park, Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, and Empire Orienteering Club

A geographic information system (GIS) lets us visualize, question, analyze, interpret, and understand data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. In this class, Dr. Meierdiercks’s students not only learn the basics of GIS mapping; they also have the chance to use skills they have learned in the class to solve a problem or answer a question for a community partner organizations.
Dr. Andrea Smith Hunter (Marketing and Management | Class - MGMT 211: Organization and Management | Partner - Trinity Alliance, United Way, Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany, and Capital Region Sponsor a Scholar


Through exploration of the management structures of several local organizations, Dr. SmithHunter’s students will study fundamental management functions including planning, organizing, leading, and controlling from a historical as well as contemporary perspective. Throughout the semester they will work in groups to research the management and leadership structure of a partner organization and present the findings of their research at the end of the semester.


SUMMER IN THE CITY YOUTH TALENT EXHIBITION 2011 Stage 1 (46-48 N. Swan St) October 8, 2011 5pm - 8pm Join us as we celebrate the artistic accomplishments of Capital Region children. Artwork will remain on display in the gallery through October and admission is free. Email for more information or to find out how your program can participate next year. EXPOSED Washington Park Lake House October 14, 2011 7pm One-night exhibition and cocktail part fundraiser for Albany Barn, Inc. featuring exclusive images from inside St. Joseph’s Academy. $40. For more info, go visit HALLOWEEN EXTRAVAGANZA 7 Siena College October 29, 2011 Come to this spooktacular family event at Siena College! Children can participate in fun games and a haunted house! Proceeds go to one of ACE’s community partners. Contact for more information. 4TH ANNUAL RED, WHITE & CHOCOLATE The Empire State Plaza November 11, 2011 6pm-10pm The Board of Directors is proud to announce the 4th Annual Red, White & Chocolate Celebration to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany. Please join us for a night of cocktails and networking while we recognize our 2011 Community Impact Award Recipients. Silent auction, raffles, live music, fine art auction, and more!

For more upcoming partner events, visit our website or follow us on our social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. /sienacollegeace /sienacollegeace /sienacollegeace

acereflections /sienacollegeace /sienacollegeace

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contact us:
Siena College Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy Office of Academic Community Engagement 515 Loudon Road | Loudonville, NY 12211 (518) 782-6886 | |

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