The holidays remind us this is the season of giving. All members of SUNY make a concerted effort to volunteer and contribute to their respective campuses and local communities. The 30 Days of Giving campaign highlights students and faculty across all of our 64 campuses who participate in volunteerism and give back to those in need. With over 467,000 students and three million alumni, we want to celebrate the impact the SUNY community has made in all of their unique community service projects. As we learned last year, the byproduct of taking volunteerism to scale is not only building character in our students themselves as they join our over three million alumni, but also to set an example of impact as the nation’s largest university system.
Hudson Valley Community College
Hudson Valley Community College’s community service efforts earn recognition from the White House
About two dozen Hudson Valley Community College students traveled to Schoharie County in February 2013 to assist with the massive clean-up effort still underway following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Recruited by Campus Minister Cylon George, the students spent the day working in small groups in and around the town of Schoharie, painting, cleaning up debris and insulating a home.
In addition to their day’s labor in support of S.A.L.T. (Schoharie Area Long Term) recovery, Hudson Valley student volunteers also helped with the annual Equinox Thanksgiving dinner that serves more than 10,000 homeless, shut-in and poor individuals in the Capital Region; spearheaded a collection of personal care items for clients of Joseph’s House and Shelter in Troy, and organized an interfaith speakers panel to promote campus and community-wide understanding of Muslim beliefs, practices and culture.
“Helping the community is a wonderful, spiritual principle that unites us all,” George said.
When he learned of President Barack Obama’s Presidential Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge – which asked college students to come together and participate in meaningful service to their communities, George thought it was an excellent opportunity to increase the visibility of these community service projects and to encourage students to undertake more projects. More than 250 colleges and universities participated in the challenge. George traveled to Washington DC to accept Hudson Valley Community College’s certificate of participation from Arne Duncan, United States Secretary of Education, and a letter of commendation signed by the President Obama.
Another group of Hudson Valley students – members of the Entrepreneurship Club and Student Senate – traveled to Staten Island, where they spent a day assisting with the recovery effort following Hurricane Sandy that struck in October 2012.
Student organizer Nicole Schubert said the group chose to work in Staten Island because it was one of the hardest hit areas and often called the “forgotten borough.” The group worked under the auspices of the Siller Foundation, a local organization, moving furnishings, hauling out debris, cleaning and painting in areas where help was most needed. They also delivered five boxes of toiletries that were donated for the hurricane victims.
Glenn is a student assistant in the Office of New Media of the State University of New York. He is an undergraduate economics and political science major at the University at Albany in Albany, NY.