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SIENA COLLEGE ACADEMIC COMMUNIT Y ENGAGEMENT NEWS | FALL 2011
INSIDE: Halloween Extravaganza Program Highlights and Service Stories Partner Spotlight Upcoming Events
Siena College Academic Community Engagement News
Fall 2011 515 Loudon Road Loudonville, NY 12211-1462
Published by the Ofﬁce of Academic Community Engagement Editor & Designer
Jennifer Simek AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader and Coordinator of ACE Public Relations
Contributing Writers Coordinator
Rachel Dykstra ’15
CONTENTS 4 6 8 9 10 15 19 22 23
FCSA Volunteer Service Fair Halloween Extravaganza Fall Networking Coffee House Bonner Community Service Sundays Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellow News Siena Bonner Service Leader News Academic Service Learning News Partner Proﬁle: Sponsor A Scholar Upcoming Programs and Events
Jennifer Simek Keri O’Brien ’10 Yalitza Negron ’08
ACADEMIC COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT STAFF Dr. Mathew Johnson ’93
Director of Academic Community Engagement and Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies
Assistant Director of Operations
Yalitza Negron ’08 Gretchen Mielke Ruth Scipione
Assistant Director of AmeriCorps*VISTA Assistant Director of Bonner Service Leaders Assistant Director of Academic Service Learning
Dr. John Harden
Academic Coordinator for Academic Community Engagement
Hope 7 Community Center located in Troy, NY, receives the proceeds from Halloween Extravaganza 7. VISTA Fellow John DeCirce was present to represent his service site.
FROM THE EDITOR
The fall semester was a busy time for the programs of the Office of Academic Community Engagement and it shows in the variety of stories throughout this issue of the DEEP Service Magazine. We kicked off the new academic year with a variety of engaging events, including the FCSA Volunteer Service, the Siena Club Fair, Halloween Extravaganza 7, and the VISTA Networking Coffee House! All of them were highly successful and engaged students and community members interested in important social issues. Our Bonner Service Leaders, AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellows, and Academic Service Learning programs also went into full swing this fall semester and each participant has a story to tell about their service
experiences. This issue of the DEEP Service Magazine features some of their inspiring stories. You also may have noticed that the Office of Academic Community Engagement has moved from Hines Hall! We are now located in the St. Thomas More House on the corner of Fiddlers Lane and Route 9. Please stop by and visit us in our new office space! Happy reading! Jennifer Simek AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader & Coordinator of ACE Public Relations
Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellows Recruit Volunteers at the Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy Volunteer Service Fair.
Every year AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellows jump on the chance to attend the Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy (FCSA) Volunteer Service Fair at the beginning of the Fall semester. It is a great opportunity to get out the freshly designed and printed recruitment materials and recruit Siena students who are interested in incorporating service into their academic experience. This year the FCSA Volunteer Service Fair took place on September 24th, and 13 Siena VISTA Fellows tabled at the event, including one Siena VISTA Fellow Alumni that is now the Community Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany. They represented a variety of organizations, including Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar, Hope 7 Community Center, Grand Street Community Arts, Unity House of Troy, Siena College Sr. Thea Bowman Center, Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless, Albany Barn, Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany, Capital District Habitat for Humanity, and the Capital District YMCA Troy Branch. The wide variety of organizations gave students a great opportunity to choose which organization they might want to do service. For Siena VISTA Fellows, this is the first major recruitment event they attend at the beginning of their service year. They are excited to meet Siena students and get them involved in their programs and projects.
SR. THEA BOWMAN CENTER AT THE FRANCISCAN CENTER FOR SERVICE AND ADVOCACY VOLUNTEER SERVICE FAIR
By Sarah Lutz, Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellow at the Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women The Volunteer Service Fair, sponsored by the Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy (FCSA) took place on September 24th, a sunny Wednesday afternoon on the Academic Quad. My goal of the fair was to recruit volunteers for the Women of Wisdom (WOW) Volunteer Program housed in the Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women. As the Coordinator of Community Engagement and Partnership for the Center for Women, this was one of my first opportunities to shine and make connections. Before the event, the FCSA hosted a brunch for the over 50 local service organization representatives. The group of the representatives was diverse, ranging from young adults to senior citizens. The overarching goal of the group was unanimous - recruit volunteers! After filling our bellies we headed to the Quad. Tables had been set up lining the walkway of the Quad. Each agency took a table. My table was a bit sparse; I lacked a tri fold board and treats like many other tables. Maintaining a positive attitude, I spread out my flyers containing information about volunteer opportunities at Girls Inc. and Grow Girl.
Once I settled in I met my neighbors. One was the Associate Executive Director of Catholic Charities Aids Services and the other was the Program Director of Two Together, a tutoring program for youth. I soon learned that this was not only an opportunity to make connections with students, but to connect with other agencies. As a result, a sense of community emerged. As students began to meander by the tables, I took advantage of my outgoing personality. I wasn’t afraid to greet and ask students if they were interested in the WOW program. I had an advantage over the other agencies because the Sr. Thea Bowman Center is on campus, whereas most volunteer opportunities were off campus. I used this as a selling point while making it clear that I could help students volunteer at any of the agencies through the WOW program. About 20 female Siena students signed up to receive more information about the WOW program. I followed up with the students via email and again at the Club Fair. Through persistence, I was able to recruit six WOW volunteers. The FCSA Volunteer Service Fair was a great way to get to know the Siena community and local service agencies. I left with the notion that many people care and should not be afraid to combine forces. Together, we can make sustainable, effective change for a more peaceable, just, and equitable world. Sarah recently graduated from Manhattan College in Riverdale, NY with a Bachelors of Arts in Spanish. During and after college she lived abroad in Spain.
7th Annual Halloween Extravaganza
October came and went and so did the 7th Annual Saints and Ghouls Halloween Extravaganza. This annual event is an arts and crafts festival for children and their families in the Capital Region. For the past six years, it has been a huge hit on Siena’s campus. Originally Halloween Extravaganza was planned and organized by former student, now Assistant Director of the Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellows Program, Yalitza Negron ’08, as a fundraiser to benefit the community after Hurricane Katrina. Today, Halloween Extravaganza is organized and coordinated by the Siena Bonner Service Leaders Program. It continues to benefit the community except proceeds are now given to a local partner organization. This year’s recipient of the proceeds went to Hope 7 Community Center located in Troy, New York. Hope 7 doubles as an emergency food pantry and after-school haven for children. This year’s event saw over 250 children and their families. The event’s success was in large part due to the efforts of Siena students and clubs, Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellows, Bonner Service Leaders, and faculty and staff here at Siena. A combined effort
garners over 30 student led activities for children. This includes Siena’s Stage 3 “Old Spooks Haunted House” which is always a must see! Other activities included pumpkin painting and carving, mummy wrapping, and other great activities that fostered the Halloween spirit. This year’s event had a few additional components. There was a community service fair where attendees learned about local community organizations and initiatives. Attending organizations included the Colonie Police, Loudonville Shaker Road Fire Department, Capital District Community Gardens, St. Peter’s Hospital Ronald McDonald Dental Mobile, and Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless. Just around the corner from the community organizations, attendees found an array of tasty treats to indulge upon at the Halloween Extravaganza Bake Sale. Towards the end of the event, children took a swing at piñatas filled with candy. All in all, it was an amazing event and we are already looking forward to another spooktacular time next year! - Jennifer Simek, AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader
SIENA VISTA FELLOW FALL COFFEE HOUSE NETWORKING EVENT A BIG SUCCESS
SIENA VISTA FELLOW NETWORKING EVENT
By Ryan Rose ’10, Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader On November 3rd, the Siena College AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellows Program held their first annual Fall Coffeehouse in the Maloney Great Room at Siena College. This event was organized by VISTA Leader Ryan Rose and the Networking/Events Committee comprised of VISTA Fellows Sarah Lutz, Kait Ross, Erika Cary, Odalina Duran, Beatrice Jean, and Tuere Williams. In attendance were VISTA Fellows from the Siena Program as well as VISTA Fellows serving with different programs in the Capital District. Siena Faculty and Staff, Community Partners, Site Supervisors, and interested community members were also there to enjoy the evening. The Coffee House kicked off at 6 PM. As guests arrived they were greeted by Committee members and given a program as well as a bingo sheet for “Networking Bingo.” It was a huge hit. Guests were asked to email the Committee fun facts about themselves and the information was used to create the bingo sheet. In order to get a bingo, guests mingled with each other to find out who matched with the information on the card. Guests who got a bingo won a prize donated from a local business. Aside from bingo, guests dropped their business card into a fish bowl at the entrance for a chance to win some great prizes like locally roasted fair trade coffee, a YMCA package for a month, and an $80 gift card to a local Salon and Spa. The local businesses were very generous. VISTA Fellows on the Committee did a wonderful job of setting the tone for the evening. They recruited a student to play jazzy tunes to set the mood as guests spoke about their organizations and work over cider donuts and
coffee. There was a constant buzz in the room as people passed business cards and talked about issues facing our communities and nation. As poverty continues to rise, many people are looking for new and creative ways to fight it. Capital District VISTA members found the event to a be a great opportunity to connect with fellow VISTA members in the area that they had no idea existed. “It’s like we’re finding life on Mars,” said Siena College AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellow Sarah Lutz. Events like this lay the foundation for collaboration efforts in the fight on poverty. All in all most people left with new connections, ideas, possible projects and community partners. Be on the lookout for the Siena College AmeriCorps*VISTA Spring and Summer Networking Events as well. For more information or if you have any questions feel free to contact VISTA Leader Ryan M. Rose, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bonner Service Leader Community Service Sundays
What are Community Service Sundays?
On Community Service Sundays, or Service Sundays, we gather as a group to do a service project at one of our local community partner sites. - Meghan Timmins ’12 Community Service Sundays allow us to experience different forms of service in different areas than our usual service sites. It helps bring awareness to more issues in the community beyond what we may be familiar with. - Ally Konkol ’15 On Community Service Days, we seek to help a part of our community that is in need. In this way, we try to collaboratively overcome or reduce a specific problem. - Ayesha Ropri ’15
What is the experience like?
Community Service Sundays provide us with a wonderful opportunity to get together and serve as a community. We have the opportunity to get to know one another and serve alongside our team in the Greater Capital Region! - April Risley ’12 Service Sundays have really allowed me to experience Albany in a unique way and they have shown me all the various things that can be done to help influence our community. - Ann Ward ’15 Community Service Sundays allow me to experience and help a diverse group of people in an environment that is new to me. - Deanna DeVito ’15 Although it is hard work, knowing that what we do changes lives, it is well worth it. - Claudia Congemi ’14
Photo (from left to right): Hannah McCarthy, Deanna Danzy, Lindsey Knowlden ’13, Michelle Campbell, Jonathan Catrona
SIENA AMERICORPS*VISTA FELLOWS NEWS
FROM THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
Fall semester has been full of activity for the VISTA Cohort that began their service year in August 2011. We have 25 passionate and dedicated AmeriCorps*VISTAs who have committed a full-time year of service to our communities. Since the beginning of their term, the VISTAs have recruited 609 volunteers who have served 1,292 hours, raised $28,465, and collected $15,013 worth of in-kind donations! We are proud of their impact and look forward to seeing it grow as their service term continues. This August we welcomed new community partners to our program including Albany Prep, Brighter Choice, Troy YMCA, District Attorney’s Office, and more! Each partnership has allowed us to expand our outreach to the community and has given our VISTAs unique opportunities to work side by side with leading community partners. We are grateful to have dedicated and passionate community leaders partnering with Siena VISTA. Their experience in the community is invaluable and we have revamped an aspect of our program to help them reflect over their communities. Our VISTAs participate in an Academic Enrichment Program (AEP) that allows them to reflect on issues in the community. This unique component gives the VISTAs time to deeply reflect over their poverty fighting activities. AEP is led by our new Academic
Coordinator John Harden and VISTA Leader Victoria Malaney. I am thankful for their hard work and I am looking forward to future AEP sessions this Spring semester. We are proud to relate that the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), our Federal headquarters, has announced six new areas within their AmeriCorps strategic plan that they will be focusing on in the next five years. Within these areas, we are developing stronger connections in the area of education, economic opportunity, and healthy communities. I am looking forward to strengthening our focus in these issue areas throughout the service year. With the holidays coming to a close, a New Year brings with it all the excitement of new opportunities. Our program is excited to welcome six new VISTAs into our program in February. We are also looking forward to celebrating with VISTA Fellow Keri O’Brien ’11 and VISTA Fellow Natasha Grant on the successful completion of their year of service. These strong and talented young women have made a great impact in our program and the community. Thank you for all your support as we continue on our mission to fight poverty through deep partnerships and we look forward to rewarding times ahead. Yalitza Negron ’08 Assistant Director of Siena VISTA Fellows Program
ALBANY COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY COMMUNITY JUSTICE OUTREACH CENTER
By Clare Kelly ’11, Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellow At the beginning of my VISTA year, I immediately started learning about service and poverty on a local and national scale. I also began learning something else that I think is a part of VISTA life, acronyms. After PSO (Pre-Service Orientation) and OSOT (On-Site Orientation Training) I started my year at the Albany County DA (District Attorney). I am working at the CJOC (Community Justice Outreach Center), which is part of the Albany County District Attorney’s Office. Even though my Office is in a different location than the main DA Office, the mission is the same: to help lower crime rates and ensure that Albany County is a safe community. For me, the realization of the DA’s mission is through my work with the CS (Community Service) Program and CAB (Community Accountability Board). While my office runs a variety of programs, I work mainly with the CS program and CAB. The Community Service program helps individuals complete their court mandated community service hours. My office helps to match individuals with nonprofits who are looking for helping hands including after-school programs, neighborhood cleanups, humane societies, work in local thrift shops, and soup kitchens. This year I have been trying to expand the number of community partners we have.
I also work with the Community Accountability Board, which is a more involved program that works with the concept of restorative justice. An individual agrees in court to go before the Community Accountability Board, a board composed of volunteer community members, to take accountability for their actions. Together the Board and the individual come to a Reparative Agreement, which includes community service in addition to other tasks that help the individual focus on the impact that their actions had on the community. I have been working to recruit new board members as well as trying to ascertain what has happened to individuals who have gone before CAB. My placement this year has been an eye opening experience as to what is happening in Albany. I have learned not only what crimes may be taking place but also what new initiatives and programs are being offered to the community. I hope that I can continue to learn and enjoy my new perspective on Albany. Clare Kelly ’11 is a first year VISTA Fellow originally from Haddonfield, NJ. She moved to Albany to attend Siena College and graduated in 2011 with a BA in Sociology.
“The Community Service program helps individuals complete their court mandated community service hours. My office helps to match individuals with non-profits who are looking for helping hands including after-school programs, neighborhood cleanups, humane societies, work in local thrift shops, and soup kitchens.”
Trinity Alliance provides services to the community that support and promote healthy families, adults, and children. Trinity is dedicated to improving neighborhoods as a setting for family life, contributing to health, and well-being, and promoting education and employment as a means of self-development. - excerpt from Mission Statement
TRINITY ALLIANCE SELECTED AS RECIPIENT OF SIENA CHARITY WEEK
By Carolyn Holthaüsen, Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellow
Here at Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region we have a lot going on. In mid-November, Trinity Alliance was selected the recipient of Charity Week by the Siena College Student Events board, which approximately raised $14,000 for us. We are gearing up for Toys for Trinity Alliance was founded in Tots and this year we will serve 1912, so 2012 marks out 100th approximately 900 children, by Trinity Alliance was selected the anniversary! To commemorate the providing them with toys for the event we are holding our annual recipient of Charity Week by the holidays. Our GED preparation Siena College Student Events board, gala, “Time, Tradition, Trinity” at program is also going incredibly the D&H Building (SUNY Central) well, from having only three which approximately raised $14,000 on April 3, 2012. At the current dedicated participants at the start for us. moment we are collecting of the program, to at least twenty corporate sponsorships, selecting a students in both classes we offer. possible jazz band, and contacting individuals that have been important to Trinity’s history. In addition, Soon our Bonner Student, Abbie Harding, will be we are working on developing an oral history for tutoring a course on computer literacy where members Trinity Alliance. We hope to have an exhibit featured of the community can set up email accounts and work in the Albany Institute of History and Art. towards certifications in different fields. Through the Metrix Learning system and ALLbany Online, which Carolyn is originally from Albertson on Long Island, NY. She offers courses in healthcare, business, information graduated in December 2010 from State University of New technology and software, individuals can be certified in York at Oswego with a BA in Cinema and Screen Studies with these respective fields. a minor in Creative Writing.
Executive Director of Trinity Alliance, Harris Oberlander, and former Siena College basketball player and Trinity Alliance Board Member, Prosper Karangwa ’03, were recently featured on our weekly radio broadcast, Change Makers, which airs every Saturday at 10:30 AM on WVCR 88.3 The Saint. Scan the code with your smart phone to download the episode on iTunes U!
The South End Voice, a local publication for the South End of Albany started by Michael Parson, the previous VISTA for Trinity Alliance, is still going strong. We are working on expanding the publication and having more distribution lists. The last few issues have featured articles from Professor John Harden’s Bridge to College program which partners freshman students with residents of the South End of Albany through the St. John’s/St. Ann’s center to create a writing partnership.
A GREAT START AT NORTH ALBANY
By Scott Reynolds ’11, Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellow As the Siena-North Albany Partnership Programming Coordinator, one of my main tasks is to keep the strong ties that NAA has to Siena College going. That includes Trailblazers, Girl Scouts, tutoring with the Siena Education Club, and the Bonner Program, to name a few. We also have an amazing after-school program offering choices in Martial Arts, Chess, Cooking, Tutoring/Homework, Robotics, Berkshire, and Trailblazers. In addition to these everyday clubs, we have had some amazing one-time events. We had the great yoyo antics of the NED show talk about character and bullying, a professional football player came to motivate our Middle School students, and Otto the Auto came and taught the Elementary students about road and car safety. Also, some changes have happened to the front of our building, although you will not notice until spring. That is because the North Albany Neighborhood Association and some 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th grade students have planted over 150 flower bulbs in the flowerbeds in front of our building on North Pearl Street. Some of my other tasks this year will be helping with fundraising and creating some programs for the school to implement next year. One of my programs will deal with bullying and character education; another will deal with community gardening; and finally I will have a program dealing with academic success. My service year is off to a great start. Here is to great successes for the rest of the year! Scott Reynolds is originally from Binghamton, NY and has a Bachelor of Science in Adolescent Education (Grades 7-12) with a Concentration in Mathematics from the State University of New York College at Oswego.
GREEN TECH IS ELECTRIC
By Natasha Grant, Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellow It’s that time of year! It’s the time of the year when high school seniors start the application process. The only difference is, here at Green Tech High Charter School, this is first time ever that seniors are applying to college. How could that be, you ask? Well, Green Tech is a new school (opened in 2008) and we’ll have our first graduating class in spring 2012. So, as one can imagine, everyone’s nerves are a bit frazzled. Our principal, John Taylor, is looking forward to bragging about Green Tech’s first graduating class, but in the meantime he’s crossing his fingers, hoping that none of the seniors will break his heart. Students are getting used to the new software that I launched for the school, and busying themselves with applying to college and trying to figure out how they’re going to pay for college. Teachers are getting used to seniors emailing them requests for letters of recommendation. Parents are attending College Access informational sessions. College reps are visiting and tabling outside of our student union (aka cafeteria), answering questions galore. And, our once bare-walled College Office is slowly becoming a room to be reckoned with, thanks to my emails to college reps, requesting brochures and pennants. The energy is electric! But, again, so are the nerves. Everyone is thinking: have I done enough? What can I do better? Should I have done it this way, or that way? If only... What if...? So many questions abound. Of the 45 seniors (Green Tech’s a small school), 21 of them have been accepted to, at least, one college. But that’s not enough. They want to get accepted to their first-choice school on a full-ride, close to home, but far away from it. It’s possible, but what happens if...? Natasha Grant is nearing the end of her first VISTA Fellow service term. She recently decided to extend her service term another year. She is originally from the Bronx, NY and received her BA, BS, and MA from Ohio State University.
“A Day In The Life...”
Carolyn Stallard, AmeriCorps VISTA at the College of Saint Rose, shares her story on the daily life of a AmeriCorps VISTA member.
Beep beep beep... 6 AM, and I am awakened by the alarm. Groggily, I roll out of bed and get ready for the day. I walk two blocks to the College of Saint Rose... my alma mater... and head into the music building. I might not be a music major anymore, but I’ve still got to start the day off right with some jazz vibes! By 10 Am I’m in my office, typing, typing, typing. I make some phone calls and answer a never ending stream of emails. I do not like staring at a computer for so long, but I know it is necessary. Students, faculty, community partners... so many people to contact! And the documents... volunteer schedules, a donation request form, a PowerPoint on refugees... if I don’t have meetings, sometimes I’m typing almost all day. In the afternoon, I walk to my apartment for lunch. If I’m in the mood, I put on African music from the cultures of the refugees and answer emails as I eat. On slow days, I spend time doing refugee research: reading a book, watching a documentary, etc. Slow days are rare, however, so I usually just shove food down my throat and run out the door to a meeting... or five. Later, I walk to the Refugee and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus (RISSE). The children smile and wave when they see me. Sometimes, they grab my hand and pull me over to play or help with homework. I love this part! I think it’s important to know what volunteers experience, so I try to be a little involved in every aspect of the program. Next, I walk passed the adults learning English and silently commend them. Many have lived in refugee camps for decades and have little education; the Karenni people do not even have a written language. To come here and spend five hours a day studying English... that’s impressive. I then head upstairs to meet with the Director. I update her on all I’ve been doing: planning a benefit concert, researching grants, meeting with volunteers and faculty... there’s always something to talk about. By 6 PM, I leave RISSE. On the way out I run into the Congolese van driver and we converse in French, the native language of many of the African refugees. They always smile when they learn I speak it too. I say goodbye and walk home feeling, as always, grateful for my life as a VISTA. Carolyn Stallard is independent of the Siena College AmeriCorps VISTA Fellows Program, however, Siena VISTA actively recruits and invites VISTA members from across the region to participate in professional development trainings and special networking events held by the Siena VISTA Program. If you are a VISTA in the New York Region, contact Siena College VISTA Leader, Ryan M. Rose ’10 at (518) 782-6963, for more information on how you can get involved!
AmeriCorps VISTA Members: Join the AmeriCorps Week Pen-Pal Project! Send letter, stories, local goods, care packages, and photo to current members and alums during AmeriCorps Week to help build the national service network! Go to http://tinyurl.com/76srcﬂ to sign up! DEEP 14
SIENA BONNER SERVICE LEADERS NEWS
FROM THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
This year marks the fourth year of the Siena Bonner Service Leaders Program. In May, the founding class of students will walk across the stage ready to enter the professional world. They will leave with four years of work experience, challenged and trained by you as our partners, supervisors, and co-mentors. They have received years of academic, professional and leadership training and served locally, nationally, and internationally. They have attended and planned national conferences, and presented workshops. These students are our pioneers breaking the path for the rest of our additional forty-five students following the Franciscan tradition of service. I argue that they have chosen and tackled the challenging path, balancing academic excellence, and a varsity-level commitment to the Capital Region’s nonprofit sector. Now that we are six months away from their future, I want to thank them, encourage and challenge them to have confidence as they prepare to stand in the professional world. Next semester, they will embark in the culmination of the past four years, with our senior capstone project. Designed to be the biggest project they can imagine, bringing together their academic, personal, and professional stories, the capstone is meant to showcase the legacy they are leaving behind. To their mentors and supervisors, join me in encouraging them to new levels. To the faculty, join me in helping them expand the possible, and to fellow community members, join me in learning more about our next generation of change makers. Gretchen Mielke Assistant Director of the Bonner Service Leaders Program
My Bonner Service Role Green Tech High Charter School
By Suzanne Livingston ’14, Siena Bonner Service Leader Green Tech High Charter School is an all-boys charter school. The school’s main goal is to make the school dropout rates of boys decline so they can go on to college, bettering themselves and their community. A charter school is a public school that is free from most government regulation. This allows the school to innovate in areas such as educational programming, longer school days and years, financial management, special education services, fundraising, marketing strategies, and school governance. There are roughly 400 students in the school right now. These students are broken up into four frats including Morehouse, Howard, Grambling, and Hampton. This is a way to separate the students for classes but to unite the students throughout grade levels. The school allows students to grow at their own level in a safe learning environment. It gives the students a chance to enhance themselves and have access to people who can help them obtain a large struggle faced in their community: graduation. The boys are required to do a minimum of 90 hours of
community service to graduate. This helps open the eyes of these boys to the issues that are happening in their community. Some of the places these boys serve at are North Albany Academy and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany. Currently, Green Tech has two amazing Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellows, Amanda Wilson and Natasha Grant, who do a lot for this school. Ms. Wilson is the Green Tech Service Learning Coordinator that helps the students stay on track with their hours. As a Bonner, I work with her closely to educate the students about the service requirement and social justice issues. Ms. Grant is the College Access Coordinator that helps the students apply for college and answers questions that the students have. I also work with another Bonner, George Lopez, who works closely with Ms. Grant and sets up college talks between the students and a student at different colleges around the United States. Both AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellows work with Suki Cintron, the only guidance counselor at Green Tech. Recently, we had the Siena Bonners come to Green Tech to run a college day where the Juniors and Seniors could ask questions and work on things needed to apply to college. This really helped the students with their college applications and gave the students a chance to break out of the norm and go to college.
Bonner Service Leaders Make Strides in Tackling Homelessness in the Capital Region
By Nicholas Ramundo ’14, Siena Bonner Service Leader The Sheridan Hollow Drop In Center is the only one of it’s kind in the Capital Region. We offer a safe-haven during the day for homeless individuals and individuals at risk, as well as a plethora of services that promote self-sufficiency. We provide showers, a laundry facility, play area for children, daily meal, lockers, access to an office for business purposes, weekly life skills groups, community room, clothing pantry, bus token program, mail box, fax, phone, and case management services. The Bonners at this site (Jazmin Tejada ’15, Sarah Ortega ’15, and myself) work with Heather Palmer (Drop-In Supervisor and Site Supervisor) as Client Support Interns. We assist our guests with everyday tasks such as contacting the Department of Social Services. We also help our clients achieve long-term goals, such as attaining housing through various community and Interfaith Housing programs, as well as privately owned. From an individual standpoint, Jazmin works on the monthly calendar that is available to the public and lists the service providers that come to our center. These service providers range from domestic violence counseling to employment outreach. Sarah is responsible for the Community Meeting newsletter that addresses the community organizations that hold weekly information sessions for our guests. Personally, I am managing my own caseload and working with my clients as they make the transition from being literally homeless to reaching self-sufficiency. As a team, we put together flyers that list current housing leads and employment opportunities and feature them thru our Drop-In Center. Advocating for the Bonner Service Leader from this site, it is my honor to explain how rewarding, humbling, and educational this service work has been for us. All three of us love what we do and are extremely thankful to have the opportunity to help others in such a meaningful way.
Photo: Nicholas Ramundo ’14 at the 2011 Bonner Summer Leadership Institute.
The Bonners at this site (Jazmin Tejada ’15, Sarah Ortega ’15 and myself) work with Heather Palmer (Drop-In Supervisor and Site Supervisor) as Client Support Interns. We assist our guests with everyday tasks such as contacting the Department of Social Services. We also help our clients achieve longterm goals, such as attaining housing through various community and Interfaith Housing programs, as well as privately owned. - Nicholas Ramundo ’14
Learning To Work With Children at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany
By Hannah Waldman ’15 and Millie Condon ’15, Siena Bonner Service Leaders When we started our work at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany, we had no clue what we were getting into. When we originally found out our service was working with children, we were very excited to let loose and have fun with kids. However, once we started, we realized it is not as easy as we though. Both of us were from middle class towns and had previously worked with kids from our hometowns. Little did we know the difference an area can have on the way a child behaves. In the city area of Albany, it is a lot more common to see dilapidated housing. Many of the children have become accustomed to this behavior and have brought it into the club. This was something we both did not anticipate. From the beginning, we were settling arguments between young children and trying to break through their barriers to uncover the truly playful nature each child has. Once we got used to the children and they became familiar with us, things started to look up. We now look forward to their playful behavior and handling whatever challenges come our way here at the Club. We enjoy daily gym time for our power hour, along with intensive school work and educational games to ensure the children are set on the right track at school. We are very pleased to be a part of such a vital establishment here in Albany where we get to provide a daily escape from whatever hardships they may or may not face at school and home. We love being role models in each of their lives and strive to make a lasting difference. We hope to continue to learn skills and ways to work more productively with children. We also hope to take all the lessons and experiences we gain from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany and use them to further our service learning goals.
“I noticed how he reacted to the adults yelling at him and it was clear yelling was not a productive disciplinary method. I took him aside and knelt down to his level. Then I asked him why he was having trouble and when he still wouldn’t comply, I tried talking about something he would relate to. He then began to calm down and wanted to make me happy and become my helper. I realized at that moment that when doing service it is of utmost importance to have patience and put yourself at the person receiving the service’s level in order to gain results.” - Millie Condon ’15
ACADEMIC SERVICE LEARNING NEWS
FROM THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
This past semester I was inspired by the number of Siena faculty who chose to design and implement service learning courses across various departments and disciplines. From the Humanities to Business to Social Sciences, Siena professors were able to take advantage of this experiential pedagogy to ignite a spark of intellectual curiosity in their students. As educators, we work hard to teach our students the foundational knowledge of our disciplines. We challenge our students to go beyond the basics to apply and integrate this disciplinary knowledge into other classes and experiences. There are, however, a series of learning goals that focus on the human elements of learning. We need our students to learn how they learn, to develop new interests and values, and to discover more about themselves and others in the world (Fink 2003). We often consider these more humanistic goals to be tangential to the contentfocused goals but they are vital in creating a community of engaged learners. They do not take away from the content-focused goals; in fact, they strengthen them and can turn an informative class into a transformative one. In the following pages you will hear stories of faculty and students who were involved in academic service learning courses this fall 2011 semester. In each story we can see how the human side of service learning is intimately connected to strengthening disciplinary knowledge by fostering intellectual curiosity. While academic service learning is not the only way to inspire this intellectual curiosity, it is a natural fit for those who want to create a learning environment where students take ownership of their own learning. In academic service learning classes students take learning personally because they know that they are using the skills and knowledge of their discipline, be it Spanish, Psychology, Business, Theatre or Environmental Studies, to create a real and tangible difference in the world. In turn, they are challenged to learn more about themselves and their values. - Ruth Scipione, Academic Service Learning Coordinator
Service-Learning in Spanish: Building Local Connections
By Marcela T. Garcés, Assistant Professor of Spanish, Modern Language and Classics Department My Spanish 370 class, “Communication and Composition” included a servicelearning component in the fall semester of 2011. This project was very stimulating as it involved interacting with a myriad of individuals: my 15 students, colleagues at Siena College, and many people in the Capital Region. The plans for this course began in the summer of 2011, when Ruth Scipione, the Assistant Director of Academic Service Learning at Siena, helped to connect me with a community partner. Ruth introduced me to Juan George, the editor of Latino New York magazine and a great supporter of the local Latino and Hispanic community. I also attended the Engaged Scholarship and Teaching Symposium in June and The ProblemBased Service Learning Institute in August (both at Siena College), which allowed me to take on the role of a student and learn about the purposes of service learning. With this newly acquired knowledge in mind, I had a series of meetings with Juan, and the project began to take form. My students were charged with two tasks: to help Juan with feedback about his website, latinosinyourarea.com and to write articles that will be featured in Latino New York magazine in the coming months. The idea was to have students of Spanish learn more about the local Latino and Hispanic population by
gaining practical experience researching and interviewing people in the Capital Region both about their experiences and the resources available to this population. Before the students began their work, they reviewed and wrote about Latino New York magazine in order to learn about its mission and purpose. Then, Juan visited our class to introduce himself and his magazine and talk about our project. As an initial research step, we worked with Siena librarian Catherine Crohan who helped us do investigative work about different organizations in the area and also to look at data on the local Latino and Hispanic population from the 2010 U.S. Census. My students were then asked to choose different organizations to research and contact based on their interests. To name only a few of the projects, some groups visited Centro Cívico, a non-profit organization that provides ESL and computer classes as well as daycare services to the Hispanic/Latino community. Others attended local churches that hold masses in Spanish, and another group visited libraries in Albany and Troy that have Spanish-speaking materials in their collections. Then, they composed numerous drafts of their articles, which are in Spanish and English, and completed a peer-editing process and also responded to my feedback. The students all enjoyed seeking out opportunities to use their knowledge as advanced Spanish students. I am grateful for the help and dedication of everyone involved in this project, which ultimately taught me to be a facilitator and an inquisitive student instead of the professor of knowledge. In the process, my students and I met many new people and learned about a wide variety of organizations, thus effectively fusing theory with practice. In sum, to paraphrase two of my students, Elizabeth Dignum-Birch and Caroline Castaño, this project taught us all in distinctive ways that it is important to cross borders instead of building them.
In the process, my students and I met many new people and learned about a wide variety of organizations, thus effectively fusing theory with practice.
Making Connections Between Service and Learning
At mid-semester this past fall, a group of students were asked, “What is the most important thing you are learning in this class? Below is a selection of quotes from these students.
First Year Seminar with John Harden The most important thing that I am learning in class is related to the service learning and social change. I would like to incorporate some of these ideas into my values as a doctor and in medicine. I am learning the significance of social media, how the world is evolving because of technology, the importance of service learning and what it means, and how my service can affect people’s lives in a positive way. Spanish 370 with Dr. Marcela Garcés This class is augmenting my understanding that what we learn in class can be useful and pertinent to what is going on in the contemporary world. It helps me to value my Spanish major as something that will stimulate my further participation in the Latino community. addicts. I like the hands-on experience with the service learning project. It’s improving my interpersonal skills as well as allowing me to get a feel for what someone who has had a problem with addiction has to face. I am learning more about addiction and the underlying causes and effects that it has. The experience with our mentee is eye-opening and interesting. Overall it has been a great experience. I am learning how to understand addiction from view outside of the stereotype -- for the topic to be fully understood, the stigma of addiction has to be broken. Allowing the class an opportunity to work with recovering addicts has been a great way to start this initiative, in addiction to the videos, readings, and class
This class is augmenting my understanding that what we learn in class can be useful and pertinent to what is going on in the contemporary world.
discussions. Marketing & Management with Dr. Paul Thurston I really like how we are relating what we are doing to Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless. It helps me further understand what we are learning and it is interesting to see how it relates to an actual corporation. I am learning a lot about organizations and how they work in general. The IPH group has provided me so much insight for me, and is extremely helpful for this service-learning course.
Women Studies with Dr. Shannon O’Neill I am learning how to advocate for those who are victims of sexual assault and rape in the most appropriate ways that ultimately will lead them to recovery. We also are learning how to recognize that rape is rape no matter what the circumstance. Even close relations with a partner or familiarity with a person still does not give someone license to force sexual acts on another person. Seminar in Addiction with Dr. Karen Boswell I enjoy learning about the root causes of addiction and what kinds of therapy are the most effective for
Assisting Underserved Youth in the Capital Region
Community Partner Spotlight: Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar, Inc.
Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar, Inc. helps disadvantaged students in Albany, Troy and Schenectady public schools graduate from high school and go onto college. We began our work in 1996, under the direction of Bill Barnett II and Charlie Buchanan. To describe our program, we serve students from sophomore year in high school until graduation from college. We interview them and their family to get a feel for the importance of a college education in their lives and their commitment to the goal of attaining a college degree. We ask that the family commit along with the student to these aspirations. To date we have 135 college graduates; 150 students in colleges across the country and 90 students in high school. We graduated 95% from high school and 74% of the students who start with us eventually gain a college diploma. These statistics compare favorably with the published high school graduation rates of the three school districts and are three times the national college graduation rate as reported by College Board for randomly selected 100 high school freshmen in the United States today. While in high school, we hold our students to high scholarly expectations and provide weekly tutoring and homework help. These sessions are developed by our Academic Coordinators, who are also full time guidance counselors in the school districts. These sessions include tutors to help with difficult subjects areas or upcoming major tests. We also provide PSAT/ SAT training, AP courses and healthy snacks at our homework sessions. Our program has developed a positive peer culture in these academic sessions. Each of our students is provided an adult mentor. We have eight volunteers who work in the three cities to oversee all issues related to the mentoring role. These include, but are not limited to: identifying 30 new mentors per year, providing orientation and training
through the year and assuring our students’ safety by completing thorough background checks on all mentors. Finally, the mentors play a significant role in helping our students with their academics, along with identifying and visiting colleges across New York State. Our Board of Directors is made up of 36 community volunteers. They are broken into a number of different committees, including Executive, Finance, Mentoring, College Program, Public Relations and Development. The Chairman of the Board Directors is Steve Egna and our Chair emeritus is Charlie Buchanan. Currently, we have students attending many local colleges as well as colleges beyond the Capital Region. We work hard to strengthen our very successful program. We have strong community partnerships with Siena College, The Boys and Girls Club, CDYMCA Black and Latino Achievers and Skidmore College. We have helped replicate this successful program in two other cities, Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs. - William Corbet President of Sponsor-A-Scholar
Trail One: Community Immersion Ages 13-18 One-week sessions at Siena with issue awareness and leadership training in the mornings and afternoons spent in the community serving local organizations.
Trail Two: Social Justice Academy Ages 16+ Three week course where students earn 3 college credits by taking “Hunger & Homelessness in America” taught by Siena College Professor John Harden. Learn more at siena.edu/ace
Upcoming Program Dates
Academic Service Learning Course Design Academy Feb. 17, Mar. 9 & 30, Apr. 13 Siena College Siena AmeriCorps*VISTA Fellows Recruitment Tour Feb.-Mar. 2012 Local area colleges and career fairs VISTA Video Showcase April 19, 2012 Siena College Roger Bacon Hall, Key Auditorium Academic Celebration April 2012 Siena College
For more details visit siena.edu/ace
Recent Guests on Change Makers
Tune in to Change Makers every Saturday at 10:30 AM on 88.3 The Saint, stream it on wvcr.com, or download each show as a podcast on iTunes U.
Our Change Makers Team: Manager: Jennifer Simek, VISTA Leader Host: Yalitza Negron ’08, Assistant Director Co-Host: Millie Condon ’15, Bonner Producer: Brian Dorrian ’12, Siena Student Co-Producer: George Lopez ’15, Bonner Guest Recruiter/Script Writer: Hannah Waldman ’15, Bonner Contact Jennifer Simek,
email@example.com, to be a guest!
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