CCE News & Awards

 

TWTP 2017 Flier

Eastern’s Service Expo 2017
Wednesday April 12 from 2-5 PM
St. Joseph’s Church, Willimantic

CCE Service Expo Save the Date 17 Poster

Written by Michael Rouleau, University Relations

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — On April 12, Eastern Connecticut State University will host its annual Service Expo and Awards ceremony in the Parish Hall of St. Joseph Church in Willimantic, CT, from 2-5 p.m., with the award ceremony starting at 4 p.m.

The annual service expo, hosted by the Center for Community Engagement, showcases collaborations between Eastern students and the greater Windham community. With more than 20 programs and special events on display, guest judges will evaluate programs in seven categories, allowing students an opportunity to highlight their achievements and articulate their accomplishments. Programs include in-school and after-school tutoring and mentoring, teaching senior adults learn how to use computers, providing resume help and job search support for adults in recovery, socialization with adults with disabilities and more.

The event also features service awards honoring faculty, staff, students and community partners. Catina Caban-Owen will receive the Faculty/Staff Community Engagement Award for her extensive work advocating for children and families in Windham. Caban-Owen, a social worker at North Windham School and a faculty member in the Department of Social Work at Eastern, started the Windham Task Force to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect to educate parents and others of the signs of child abuse, and on how to help prevent future abuse. The Center for Community Engagement is also proud to honor Avery Lenhart with the Community Partner Award for her continued work as shelter manager at the Windham Region No Freeze Hospitality Center and for her leadership in ending youth homelessness in the Windham region.

The United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut will be recognized with the Outstanding Community Event Award for its support for grade level reading by grade 3. The “United Way Readers” program serves 23 children at Natchaug Elementary School during the day and after school.

The Service Learning Award will go to John Murphy, lecturer in Eastern’s Department of Communication, for his enhancement of service learning courses at Eastern.  Murphy has created a collaboration between his media course and courses in video production and business to engage students in the community through media production work for local non-profits.

The Center for Community Engagement will honor Jasmine Carvalho ’17 from Meriden, CT, with the Student Community Engagement Award. Carvalho helped create Eastern’s prison tutoring program in collaboration with the Petey Greene Program, recruiting and training student volunteers to work with incarcerated students at Brooklyn Correctional Institution and Radgowski Correctional Institution.

For more information regarding the Service Expo and Awards event, please contact Kimberly Silcox by email at silcoxk@easternct.edu or by phone, (860) 465-4426.

Art & Culture Series for Windham Elementary Schools
April 3, 2017 from 2:00 – 6:00 PM

IMG_2264IMG_2323

A very special annual event that brings the After School Programs from Sweeney, Barrows, North Windham, Windham Center, and Natchaug Elementary schools to Eastern for an educational event to enrich the students in various aspects of a certain culture. For 2017 the cultural theme is Jamaica! The culture and people will be explored through display stations and activities that allow the children to experience the food, dance, music, literature, language and art of Jamaica.

Bowlathon 2017 Another Success!

CCE Bowlathon 2017

Over 100 members of the Windham and Eastern communities came together at Willi Bowl on March 4, 2017, with sponsored teams of Eastern student mentors and Windham Middle School students from the Puentes al Futuro program and Windham High School. The Bowl-a-thon provides a unique and fun opportunity for Windham kids to interact with mentors outside of the school atmosphere. Eastern student volunteers were paired with a student from Windham Middle School or Windham High School.

Thank you all from the family at CCE!

The CCE Congratulates the 2017 Honorees!

MLK Awards 2017 Poster

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Service Awards Ceremony happened on February 22, 2017 at the Eastern Student Center. The awards recognize members of the campus and community whose actions promote the civic ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK Awards 2017 #1 3 Winners(Left) Kemesha Wilmot, Faculty/Staff Award Recipient, Associate Director of the CCE
(Center) Elijah Oliver, Community Award Recipient
(Right) Taylor Hemphill, Student Award Recipient

More awards information is available at University Relations: Link to University Relations Press Releases

2016 ARCHIVE

 

Eastern Hosts 10th Annual Day of Giving

From Hartford Courant/December 7, 2016
Reporter: Melanie Savage/Courant Community

Eastern Connecticut State University hosted its 10th annual Day of Giving on Nov. 24. Here, volunteer Tim Hennessey, an Eastern senior, waits in line for his own meal after serving for several hours.

Eastern Connecticut State University hosted its 10th annual Day of Giving on Nov. 24. Here, volunteer Tim Hennessey, an Eastern senior, waits in line for his own meal after serving for several hours.

Eastern Connecticut State University hosted its 10th annual Day of Giving on Wednesday, Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving.

Standing in line for his own holiday meal near the end of the event, Eastern senior Tim Hennessey said that Hurley Hall had been busy since the doors opened.

“There has been a steady stream for about two hours,” said Hennessey, who is a health and physical education major, planning on a career in teaching.

This was the third year that Hennessey has volunteered at the event, and he said he hopes to remain involved, even after graduation.

“It’s a great way to give back to the community,” he said.

As the event began winding down mid-afternoon, many lingered in the dining room to enjoy the atmosphere and socialize. Raymond Chaput, a lifelong Windham resident, lingered at a table with his friend, John Koczewski, and others. The pair said they’d arrived at 11:45 that morning.

“It’s like a reunion,” said Chaput, who has been attending the meal for years. “You see people you haven’t seen in a long time.

“This helps a lot of people,” Chaput continued. “A lot of people had family, but now they’re gone. So this gives them a place to go to share a meal.”

Asked about the dinner, which included Thanksgiving traditions such as turkey and stuffing, along with a wide variety of desserts, Koczewski said it was delicious.

“I had two of them,” he said.

Kimberly Silcox, director of Eastern’s Center for Community Engagement, is heavily involved in the planning of the annual Day of Giving. Sitting by the front door, greeting diners with a counter in hand, Silcox said she’d logged 499 diners through that one entrance.

“I’d say we’re probably at 600, at least,” she said.

This year, organizers reconfigured the dining room to allow for room for more seating.

“Last year, we ran out of seating,” said Silcox.

Silcox said the new layout seemed to be a success.

“Guests have even commented that it’s been more relaxed,” she said.

Silcox said that the Day of Giving is a true, community event. Donations are procured from local businesses and organizations. This year, the Eastern Foundation provided turkeys and shirts, as well as vans to transport diners from locations around town. A local florist provided flowers.

Chartwells, the dining services provider at Eastern, provides and prepares the food, and assists in decorating and serving the meal. Volunteers come from all over the area to assist on the day of the event. Many Eastern students stay behind after the campus closes for the holiday. Faculty and alumni get involved.

“It’s a real community event,” said Silcox.

Silcox said that organizers are often asked the reasoning behind the Day of Giving. She said its all about forging a stronger relationship between the university, and the community that surrounds it.

“Eastern really wants to be a partner in this community,” said Silcox.

The community does so much to support the university, said Silcox. Like the Center for Community Engagement itself, the Day of Giving, “Is really about being a partner,” she said. “And about making everybody’s day a little bit brighter.”

For the four weeks leading up to the Day of Giving, the Center for Community Engagement conducted food drives to support local food pantries, including the Covenant Soup Kitchen and Salvation Army in Willimantic.

Area grocery stores that participated include Willimantic Food Co-op, Bob’s IGA, and Norwich Stop and Shop.

In total, more than 2,100 canned food items were collected and more than $1,400 was donated. The Eastern community also participated in an on-campus food drive, collecting more than 2,700 food items.

Copyright © 2016, Courant Community

 

CCE News & Awards

Save the Date: Friday November 18, 2016

CCE Conference on Faculty Engagement

On Friday November 18, 2016 The Center for Community Engagement will sponsor a conference on faculty engagement and service learning from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm in the Student Center. The focus will be on sharing current faculty activity, recruiting new faculty participation, and aligning this effort with the Civic Action Plan being developed at Eastern. There will be thirteen faculty presentations in many academic areas and students will share stories of their work in the community. This is a free event and lunch is included.

You can register on the CCE website. For more information contact CCE Director Kim Silcox at 860-465-4426 or use email silcoxk@easternct.edu.

Civic Action Conference Agenda
Friday, Nov. 18, 2016
Student Center, Eastern Connecticut State University

8:30 am – 8:45 am
Welcome
Kimberly Armstrong Silcox, Director, Center for Community Engagement

8:45 am – 9:00 am
Developing a Civic Action Plan
Carmen Cid, Dean, School of Arts and Sciences

9:00 am to 10:00 am
Lessons Learned from Faculty Engagement

Beth Merenstein and Reginald Simmons
Faculty Community Engagement Committee
Central Connecticut State University

10:00 am to 11:00 am
Learners and Service Learning: The Why of Service Learning

Tanya Moorehead, Department of Education
David Stoloff, Department of Education
John Murphy, Department of Communication

11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Community Service or Service Learning: Student Organizations, Internships and the What of Service Learning

Peter Bachiochi, Department of Psychology
Theresa Severance, Department of Sociology; Tyler Griffin, Norwich AIC
Jennifer Leszczynski, Department of Psychology

12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Lunch with Community Partners
Betty R. Tipton Room

1:00 pm to 2:00 pm
Community Partners in Service: The How of Service-Learning

Niti Pandey, Department of Business
Alex Citurs, Department of Business
Sukeshini Grandhi, Department of Business

2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Community-Based Research and Planning

Dennis Canterbury, Department of Sociology
Nicolas Simon, Department of Sociology
Rodrigo Pinto, Center for Community Engagement

3:00 pm
Closing Remarks
Nicolas Simon, Department of Sociology

Conference Abstracts

Learners and the Why of Service Learning
10:00 am to 11:00 am

Service learning: Observing with a Purpose
Tanya Moorehead,
Assistant Professor, Department of Education

Students are encouraged to participate in service learning opportunities to deepen their understanding of how teachers and students interact with each other. Specifically they explore 1. content areas and how it is delivered, 2. classroom organization, 3. rapport, 4. teaching methods, 5. classroom management, and 6. the physical environment.  This student-centered presentation will focus on the impact of this learning experience.

Future Teachers’ Service Learning
David Stoloff,
Professor, Department of Education

Students in a first year course (FYI 100-18 Is Teaching for You?) designed for those exploring teaching are encouraged to participate in Center for Community Engagement (CCE) projects in local schools and community centers.  The students complete School Participation Record (SPR) forms, which record the day, time, and the location of their service, what they did, and what they learned.  They also write 250-word essays on 5 insights from these experiences at mid-term and at the end of their first semester at Eastern.  Future teachers may participate in the conference session and offer their insights on learning from their service.

A Media Toolbox for Service Learning, Internships, Research and Community Development
John Murphy
, Adjunct Faculty, Department of Communication

Local media and digital platforms are underutilized as resources for universities, scholars and community service organizations. Cost and access can be limiting factors but strategic leveraging of resources and content among partners can be very powerful and successful. I will share many examples of this potential during my presentation.

The work I do at the Center for Community Engagement is a direct application of an integrated community media model that I have developed over many years of production of radio and TV programs, article writing and academic service at Eastern. Components include a creative mix of local radio and public access TV channels, their related radio and TV websites, local print, social media and the Internet.

The purpose and function of higher education in our society is at a historic turning point. Faculty and students live in a maelstrom of uncertainty and change at the deepest levels, challenging all norms and traditions. A human and holistic use of media and technology in the classroom and community, beyond entertainment and consumer paradigms, is one way to connect service learning and internships with the engine of volunteerism and the gift of positive energy and hope for a better future that students bring to class every day. I look forward to sharing this spirit with you at the conference!

Student Organizations, Internships and the What of Service Learning
11:00 am to 12:00 pm

Lessons Learned in Habitat for Humanity
Peter Bachiochi
, Professor, Department of Psychology

Professor Bachiochi will discuss the work he has done with students as advisor of the Habitat for Humanity campus chapter at Eastern.  In addition to multiple fundraising events, the signature developmental event for Habitat students is our Spring Break Collegiate Challenge trip.  We travel to another state to build with another Habitat affiliate but the objectives are more than building.  Students learn about themselves, gain new confidence, and also meet the families that will be new homeowners.  Student officers also acquire leadership and management skills that have translated into meaningful jobs after graduation.  I continue to learn more about myself with each trip (patience, empathy, etc.) and the university sends very positive representatives to another part of the country.  Although it would be difficult, we would like to do an international trip sometime in the future.  During this presentation, I will also profile some of our graduates who have gone on to careers with Habitat for Humanity in other parts of the country or who have taken leadership positions in organizations with a mission of community development/service.

Internships in Criminology and Related Areas
Theresa Severance,
Professor, Department of Sociology/ Tyler Griffin, Director, Norwich AIC

Placing and supervising interns in criminal justice and related settings can present challenges, but also offer students much insight into the complexities of the system, opportunities for personal development, and transferable skills. This session will discuss both the challenges and rewards of internships in this context.

 Intergenerational Connections: College Students and Older Adults Working Together
Jennifer Leszczynski,
Professor, Department of Psychology

This talk will outline a community engagement project in a Psychology of Adulthood and Aging (PSY 210) course. Students met three times with residents at Saint Joseph Living Center in Willimantic and participated in the WISE program. WISE (Working Together: Intergenerational Senior/Student Exchange) was developed by Carrie Andreoletti, Ph.D. at Central Connecticut State University. I will describe the program, discuss how my students responded to interacting with seniors in the community, and present some data about the effectiveness of the program.

Networking Lunch with Community Partners
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm in Betty R. Tipton Room, Student Center

Selected community partners and students who have participated in service learning courses will be in place to explore potential partnerships with you and your students.

Community Partners in Service: the How of Service Learning
1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Small Business Consulting as Community Engagement
Niti Pandey,
Associate Professor, Department of Business Administration

Most small businesses and non-profit organizations in our community do not have the resources to research and develop policies and programs related to human resource management. The objective of the community engagement projects I design is to provide local organizations with human resource solutions while creating an opportunity for my students to develop business consulting experience and skills such as project management and professional relationship building. These projects are implemented in a 300-level survey course on human resource management. Students work as “consulting teams” to meet with their assigned organization, determine their needs, and design client-specific solutions in a semester-long project that constitutes half their course grade. Students learn to manage their projects independently by meeting regularly with their client organization to collect data, conduct research into relevant federal and state guidelines, design appropriate solutions, and present regular, graded project progress reports to class throughout the semester. Projects range from creating employee handbooks, writing job descriptions, updating legal requirements, developing training manuals and materials, designing performance appraisal systems, and much more, all based on the needs identified by small businesses and non-profit organizations in the community. Organizations student teams have consulted with include Willimantic Brewing Company, Willimantic Food Co-Op, General Cable, WAIM, Eastern AHEC, Click, and the Windham Area Chamber of Commerce.

Teaching Human Computer Interaction Through Service Learning and Civic Engagement
Sukeshini Grandhi,
Assistant Professor, Department of Business Administration

One of the important aspects of a liberal arts education is getting students to view the world, its people, and their activities from multiple viewpoints. Educators strive to instill this among students by having students reflect on the social, political, cultural, economic, business and ethical issues concerning the world from both a historical perspective as well as the contemporary viewpoints. One good starting point for this is engaging students in reading and reflecting on published works of scholars in various disciplines. Equally important for a meaningful reflection is a first-hand experience of the various social cultural, business and economic issues of the society and the world as it stands today. This can take place in several ways in an academic institutions including, engagement in study abroad/off campus programs, travel, and service learning.

In this presentation, I will talk about how engaging students in service learning and civic action can bring value to students in the context of a three credit elective course (BIS367: Human Computer Interaction), I teach in the Business Information Systems major. I will speak about, how I engage students in real world projects with local organizations in the Windham community (such as Windham Regional Community Council, Grow Windham, Commercially Licensed Cooperative Kitchen) and how this helps students not only experience working in the real world but also empathize with the social, cultural and economic challenges these organizations face. I will also share my experiences in identifying and implementing such projects within the constraints of a semester long course and an integrated faculty engagement collaboration with three faculty members and three classes across two departments – Business and Communication.

Students Gain Long Term Career Benefits from Information Systems Community Service Experiential Learning Projects
Alex Citurs,
Assistant Professor, Department of Business Administration

Experiential service learning projects in information systems (IS) are often perceived by college students as requiring large amounts of additional time and effort that distract them from other academic studies as well as reduce the hours available to work at paid part-time or fulltime jobs.  However, preliminary analysis of students’ involvement and roles in multiple IS service learning projects over multiple years indicates these projects may often provide immense long term career benefits to students, through gaining applied “real-world” problem-solving, business-technical skills that employers greatly seek in new interns and hires as well as prove valuable in subsequent career position projects.  Furthermore, these information systems projects may also provide benefits to partnering nonprofit organizations and communities through the long-term use of the student-built information systems and subsequent gains in operational efficiencies and outreach.

A Media Toolbox for Service Learning, Internships, Research and Community Development
John Murphy
, Adjunct Faculty, Department of Communication

Local media and digital platforms are underutilized as resources for universities, scholars and community service organizations. Cost and access can be limiting factors but strategic leveraging of resources and content among partners can be very powerful and successful. I will share many examples of this potential during my presentation.

The work I do at the Center for Community Engagement is a direct application of an integrated community media model that I have developed over many years of production of radio and TV programs, article writing and academic service at Eastern. Components include a creative mix of local radio and public access TV channels, their related radio and TV websites, local print, social media and the Internet.

The purpose and function of higher education in our society is at a historic turning point. Faculty and students live in a maelstrom of uncertainty and change at the deepest levels, challenging all norms and traditions. A human and holistic use of media and technology in the classroom and community, beyond entertainment and consumer paradigms, is one way to connect service learning and internships with the engine of volunteerism and the gift of positive energy and hope for a better future that students bring to class every day. I look forward to sharing this spirit with you at the conference!

Community-Based Research and Planning
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

 Service Learning Research in the Community: Experiences from Kormantse-Nkum Ghana Dennis Canterbury, Professor, Department of Sociology

This talk will address some key issues concerning the undertaking of research in the community as an integral component of service learning. The focus is on course organization, requirements, method of assessment, course objectives, purpose and objective of research in the community, funding for research in the community, and actual field activities.

Mapping the Willimantic Community Assets, A Research Project to show the strengths and resources of the community
Nicolas Simon,
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

The Willimantic/Windham community is often perceived by outsiders in term of deficits. Individuals, institutions, agencies, or the national media discuss the problems of this community, creating negative consequences for the well-being of the local population. However, local citizens, activists, and community partners possess a different view of their community. They know the assets, the strengths, the resources of their local community. This intense solidarity responds to the concerns faced by the community. How could we, college professors participate in changing the image of our community? In this presentation, we will promote the construction of an asset-based community map to highlight the incredible work done in and by the community.

How to Develop and Whether to Propose a Community-Based Curriculum: a new Civic Action Minor at Eastern?
Rodrigo G. Pinto,
Assessment Coordinator, Center for Community Engagement; Visiting Scholar of Political Science

The talk is an exercise in participatory curriculum and community development between academic and student affairs.  It deliberates the potential proposal of a minor that would largely recognize existing courses and co-curricular programming, except for a new section of an established course and a new civic theme in an expanding thematic array of living-and-learning housing options.  The deliberation could be a step toward or beyond the Civic Action Plan that Eastern has committed to launch with Campus Compact in 2016-17.  In other words, the prospective proposal could become part of either the university Civic Action plan or longer-term planning.  The presentation specifically designs how to develop while generally assessing whether to propose a new Civic Action minor at Eastern.  Its community-based curriculum would be an interdisciplinary collaboration between at a minimum the Business Administration major, History major, Political Science major, Social Work major, Sociology major, Center for Community Engagement, and Office of Housing and Residential Life at Eastern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future Program Completes Summer Session at Eastern’s Center for Community Engagement

Willimantic—On July 28, 2016, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) at Eastern will conclude its’ fifth summer youth program Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future. 60 students from Windham Middle School participated in four weeks of English, math, arts, music and dance, gardening, media production, sports and leadership workshops. The students participated in service projects at the new West Avenue Community Center afterschool site and went on field trips to CLiCK (Commercially Licensed Cooperative Kitchen).

Puentes-photo-1-from-Tom-at-UR-at-80-quality

Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future provides a safe space for summer fun and helps with improving academics for the next school year. It is an extension of the school-year after-school program which has grown from only 20 students when it started five years ago to an anticipated level of 125 for the next year. This year 12 Eastern students served as counselors and mentors to build self-confidence among the children. Many are also members of CCE, where over 1000 students each year provide 20,000 hours of volunteer service in 35 programs at local schools and community organizations.

One of the most valuable outcomes of Puentes is for students to learn about their personal identity and cultural roots, and realize that there is a path open for them to grow through school, attend college and realize life dreams. “If you know who you are, then you will know where you are going” is an adage that Rosie Hernández, Coordinator of the Puentes al Futuro program. Carly Perron (’18) from Granby, CT, is one of the summer counselors. “The enthusiasm from the kids is really fun to watch”, she said. “I thought I was going to help them, but I feel I have learned more from the kids than they have learned from me.” remarked Adilsa Encarnacao (’18) from Waterbury, CT. Eddie Pavliscsak (’17) from Ashford, CT said he was happy to be able to expose the children to Eastern’s campus, including classrooms, the Sports Center, the Student Center and outdoor spaces. “Being on campus really helps them see themselves as future college students”, he said.

Camper Devon, age 11, thinks the counselors are fun and liked the media program most of all. He said he learned how to produce music, write songs and play instruments while recording what they made. “I am also glad to know some people when I start Middle School in the fall,” he said.

Parents can learn more about the Puentes program and register their children when school begins at the Windham Public Schools website www.windham.k12.ct.us or by calling 860-465-2300. You can also watch a video interview about Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future at the link Puentes video, in an episode of the On the Homefront local TV series on Charter Cable Public Access (click on the index point on the right side to go directly to the interview with Emily Cameron from CCE and Rosie Hernandez, founder of Puentes.)

For more information about the Center for Community Engagement go to www.easternct.edu/cce or call 860-465-0090.

 

Eastern’s Service Expo Showcases Community Efforts

Written by Michael Rouleau, University Relations, April 14, 2016

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — For a relatively small campus with 5,000 students, Eastern Connecticut State University devotes significant manpower to community service. In the past year, more than 1,000 Eastern students volunteered approximately 15,000 hours in and around Willimantic. These efforts were on display on April 13 at the Windham Town Hall for Eastern’s annual Service Expo and Awards, hosted by the University’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE).

Expo judge Max Goto ’14 (left), a former CCE volunteer, questions Michael MacDonald ’17 about his project with Beckish Senior Center. At the center, MacDonald helps lead a computer technology class and assist seniors in using their electronics. “My favorite part is seeing the seniors come back each week, excited to see us and remembering the things we talked about,” said Michael MacDonald ’17, a student leader majoring in sport and leisure management. “It’s definitely rewarding to see that we’re impacting their lives.”

Expo judge Max Goto ’14 (left), a former CCE volunteer, questions Michael MacDonald ’17 about his project with Beckish Senior Center. At the center, MacDonald helps lead a computer technology class and assists seniors in using their electronics. “My favorite part is seeing the seniors come back each week, excited to see us and remembering the things we talked about,” said Michael MacDonald ’17, a student leader majoring in sport and leisure management. “It’s definitely rewarding to see that we’re impacting their lives.”

The expo showcased Eastern’s many student-led volunteer projects — efforts that alleviate issues of poverty, aid in community development and increase sustainability. These projects engage students with local youth, the elderly, those living with disabilities and other at-risk populations. Concluding the expo was an award ceremony that recognized standout projects and individuals.

Speaking to the amount of volunteers and service hours in the 2015-16 academic year, expo judge Ellen Lang ’81, president of Eastern’s Alumni Association Board of Directors, said, “I remember years ago when it was required for students to do community service, and students would only do their four- or eight-hour obligation. Once they removed that mandatory requirement, now the students seek out programs and they’re doing hundreds of hours; it’s amazing!” She added, “They’re willing to get their hands dirty, too. We talked to people who are building houses, digging gardens and sorting through clothing.”

Ruth Eragene ’19 is a volunteer with the Connecticut Food Bank Mobile Pantry.

Ruth Eragene ’19 is a volunteer with the Connecticut Food Bank Mobile Pantry.

Lang was among a group of judges (alumni, community members, Eastern faculty) who reviewed students’ poster presentations, asked questions about their experiences and rated their projects.

“The purpose of the expo is to get students thinking about what they did in the year; it’s a disguised reflection,” said Luis Rodriguez, assistant director of the CCE. “Students discover what they’ve learned when pushed to reflect.” He also pointed out that the expo develops presentation and public speaking skills, and that students can use their professionally designed posters to promote their programs and recruit more volunteers.

The projects are large in number and diverse in focus. While each project has a different goal in mind, they all leave students with a similar sentiment. “Volunteering makes me feel like I’m making a difference in people’s lives,” said Ruth Eragene ’19, a finance major who volunteers with the Connecticut Mobile Pantry, a traveling food pantry with a stop in Willimantic. “I love to see the people talking about the meals they’re going to make and how they’re going to be able to put food on the table for their kids.”

 Koren Thomas ’18 is a volunteer with the Windham High School Afterschool Program.“We want to show the kids that when they graduate, they can be successful and have the good life that they want.” Many of the after school participants have low grades and come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. “A lot of them think they’ll never go to college,” added Thomas, “but many end up doing really well; some are coming to Eastern next year. We know that they can do it, but it feels so good when they see it themselves.”

Koren Thomas ’18 is a volunteer with the Windham High School Afterschool Program. “We want to show the kids that when they graduate, they can be successful and have the good life that they want.” Many of the after school participants have low grades and come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. “A lot of them think they’ll never go to college,” added Thomas, “but many end up doing really well; some are coming to Eastern next year. We know that they can do it, but it feels so good when they see it themselves.”

The CCE has begun a new trend of hosting the expo in downtown Willimantic, a tribute to the community in which the students serve and engage — last year the expo was at the Cafémantic banquet venue at 750 Main Street. Rodriguez says of the community integration, “Some students know about Willimantic because they may come downtown for a restaurant, but through the CCE, they meet and work with professionals in the community.”

An award ceremony concluded the event, but “our students don’t do this for accolades,” emphasized Kim Silcox, director of the CCE. “They do it because they have big hearts and really care about the people they work with.”

Rodriguez closed the event by saying, “If you’re in the community, keep welcoming our students; if you’re a faculty member, keep incorporating service learning in your class; if you’re a student, keep volunteering and offering your service.”