Eastern students demonstrated their commitment to the community at several events in April. On April 27, Eastern's Center for Community Engagement (CCE) collaborated with the Town of Windham and the Windham Chamber of Commerce on its annual "Town Pride, Town Wide" event. One hundred and seventy Eastern students and six students from the University of Connecticut worked alongside community partners Diane Nadeau from the Windham Chamber of Commerce; Matt Vertefeuille, director of code enforcement for the Town of Windham; Thread City Development volunteers Lynn Duval, Karen Gilbransen and Andrew Gutt; Jean DeSmet, former First Selectman of the Town of Windham; and other community volunteers to beautify the local community.
Students and community partners worked together to sweep sidewalks along Main Street, plant trees and flowers in local parks and around town signs; paint the gazebo in Jillson Square; assist the Holy Family Home and Shelter with cleaning its attic; and many more projects. Jacqui DeCormier, volunteer coordinator and AmeriCorps VISTA with the CCE, coordinated the student volunteers. Nadeau coordinated donations and community sites and Vertefeuille arranged assistance and support from the Town of Windham to make the event a success. Local business sponsors included Prides Corner Farm, Fred's Brick Oven Pizza, Hosmer Mountain Soda, Chris the Gutter Guy, C & T Home Improvement, O.L. Willard Co., Majestic Masonry, Positive Energy, Connecticut Country Store, Walmart, Home Depot, Subway and Stop and Shop.
On April 19, several community service programs won top honors at Eastern's Community Service Expo. Guest judges from the Willimantic community, as well as Eastern faculty and staff, awarded prizes in six categories, including Broadening Horizons, Putting Liberal Arts into Action, Going Green, Leadership Development, Strengthening Communities and Best New Program.
"The Service Expo is an opportunity for our students to share their experiences in the community, to reflect on their contributions and to articulate how the experience relates to their liberal arts education," said Kim Silcox, director of Eastern's Center for Community Engagement. "Eastern faculty and our community partners judge the projects in each category, and tell us how impressed they are with the dedication of the students."
The Puentes al Futuro (Bridges to the Future) middle school and high school afterschool programs won first prize in the Best New Program, Broadening Horizons and Leadership Development categories. The program also won runner-up in the Putting Liberal Arts into Action category. The Education Club's "Science Extravaganza" were runners-up in the Best New Program category, while the Social Work Club's WAIM "Adopt-a-Family" and "No-Freeze Shelter Toiletry Drive" was runner-up in the Broadening Horizons category.
The first-prize winner in the Putting Liberal Arts into Action category was the VITA Tax Assistance program. The Going Green category award-winner was "Alternative Spring Break: Generous Gardens," a community service effort that took place in South Carolina. The Strengthening Communities category first-prize winner was the People Helping People club's "Weekly Pen Pals Program with Natchaug" effort. Runner-up in the same category was the "Brooklyn Correctional Institute's GED Tutoring Program."