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May 2010 Archives

Community Service Awards and Service Expo

Written by Dwight Bachman

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Left to right, Leo Gaviria, Jennifer Succi, Dr. Alex Citurs, Libuse Binder, Kim Silcox, Joanna Auriantal, Dr. Eric Martin, Monica Rochon, Beth Zambrano

Willimantic, CT -- Winners of Eastern's Community Engagement Awards were recently announced as the Division of Student Affairs hosted a wide range of activities focused on engagement, empowerment, development and growth, community service and future employment. Libuse Binder, author of "Ten Ways to Change the World in Your Twenties," delivered the keynote speech.

Thumbnail image for comserv-binder speaking.JPGCommunication Student Leo Gavaria accepted the Community Event Award

on behalf of Communications Professor Denise Matthews, who was recognized for

supporting students Matthew Fletcher, Kristin Copeland, Jason Evans and Gavaria in

developing two Public Service Announcements created in English and Spanish to

encourage state residents to return their census forms.

Jennifer Succi '10 won the Student Engagement Award for a broad range of

work in the community, raising awareness of issues of hunger and homelessness,

working with students and staff to develop a composting program at Eastern, and

serving on the advisory board to establish a Pride Room at Eastern. Business Administration and Information Systems Professor Alex Citurs was honored with the Service Learning Engagement Award for helping students design and build a dynamic database website for the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic.

Eric Martin received the Faculty Staff Engagement Award for his work in Willimantic on Spring Street, developing the Nonprofit Alliance of Northeastern Connecticut (NANC) and for his work with theWillimantic Whitewater Partnership. Joanna Auriantal accepted the Community Partner Engagement Award on behalf of her mother, Lynn White, who works with women in the community who have been incarcerated to develop work skills while at the same time supporting women who are no longer able to care for their own gardens by providing free landscaping through the "Growing Stronger" program.


Following the Community Engagement Awards Ceremony, a Service Expo was held in the Student Center. More than 35 projects showcased work by students who have participated in engaged learning through their coursework as well as students who have volunteered in the community displayed posters and discussed their experiences. Recruiters from several industries were on hand, including Allied Community Resources; Carmax; Community Mental Health Affiliates; Community Prevention and Addiction Services, Inc; Disney College Program; First Investors Corp; Groton Public School; Hartford Public Schools; Kforce; Metropolititan District Commission; Paychex; Peace Corps; Primerica; Reliance House; Safe Roof Cleaning LLC; Schroth Systems Consulting; TechniArt Inc., and The Discovery Center. 

Guest judges for the Service Expo include Doreen Fuller, Windham Superintendent of Schools; Willimantic Mayor Ernie Eldridge; Neal Beets, Windham Town Manager; Roger Adams, executive director of the Windham Regions Chamber of Commerce; Mace McClain, Willimantic Weed and Seed Program; Bill Leahy, Director of Eastern's Institute for Sustainable Energy; and Jean DeSmet, Willimantic Renaissance member.

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Judges presented awards to Linda Hodge for her work with the Colchester Rotary Club; Brit Cava and Kate Harner, for their work developing and leading recycling efforts in the residence halls; Jordan Lorrius, for his work in Serbia and Haiti; the Habitat for Humanity chapter for their work in building homes in the community; and the student chapter of the Association of Information. The judges were very impressed by the quality of the work performed by the students. "I had no idea students were this involved in our community!" remarked Kristin Fortier of the Willimantic Food Co-op.

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Eastern President Elsa M. Núñez congratulates Amanda Trothier, vice president  of the Eastern chapter of  Habitat for Humanity for a job well done in service to community.

The Office of Wellness Promotion, in conjunction with the PASS group (Peer Advocates for Safe Students), also hosted Alcohol Awareness Day. Participants learned how to know when they've had enough to drink; received tips on being safe and responsible; and were given free prizes. Eastern's Police Department also facilitated a BAC (Blood Alcohol Count) Challenge course for people to try their hand at simple, everyday tasks while wearing the BAC glasses ("Beer Goggles").


Eastern Police "Tip-A-Cop" for Special Olympics

Written by Jack Meltzer 

Willimantic, CT -  Members of the Eastern Connecticut State University

Campus Police Department will participate in their annual Special Olympics "Tip-A-Cop" fundraiser from 8 a.m. to noon on May 15.  Police officers will work behind the scenes at the Dunkin' Donuts on 1015 Main St. in Willimantic to solicit donations for Special Olympics of Connecticut. All tips will be matched by the Dunkin' Donuts franchisee.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run through campus will also kick off on June 10 at 7:49 a.m. sharp in the Police Department parking lot and wind through campus before hitting the streets of Willimantic.

            Last year, Eastern's Police Department raised more than $7,500 for Special Olympics of Connecticut. Checks can be made out to Special Olympics Connecticut or sent to Eastern Connecticut State University, Attn: Officer David DeNunzio, 83 Windham Street, Willimantic, CT 06226.


Eastern Students Win Third Place PSA Prize

Written by Emily Bonoyer

Willimantic, CT - A team of five Eastern Connecticut State University students won $1,000 and took third place in the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Connecticut, Inc. (WSWC) 2010 Public Service Announcement (PSA) Contest. The ceremony was held in Torp Theatre at Central Connecticut State University on May 3. The Eastern team "Ghost" consisted of Abmari Saez '10 of Windsor Locks; Corrine King '10 of Gaylordsville; Justine Sorel '10 of Brooklyn; Jayne Rybczyk '10 of Bristol; and Leo Gaviria '11 of Norwich.

The WSWC joined Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele; Jill Spineti of theGovernor's Prevention Partnership, and Jack Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University, to announce the contest winners at the awards ceremony.

Entrants were asked to write, film and produce a 30-second television public service announcement (PSA) educating parents about the myths associated with underage drinking. Thirty-one teams consisting of more than 100 students from Central, Eastern, Quinnipiac University, Western Connecticut State University,the University of Hartford, the University of New Haven and Sacred Heart University submitted original PSAs for the contest.

"We commend the WSWC and its partners for their commitment to this important public service initiative. Providing Connecticut's college students with an opportunity to help debunk the myths of underage drinking allows them to use their talent and creativity to inform their peers and the public, and potentially save lives," said David G. Carter, chancellor of the Connecticut State University System. "We congratulate everyone involved in this effort, from the student video producers to the public and private agencies, for their outstanding work and steadfast dedication."

"The members of the WSWC are proud of the excellent work all of the entrants exhibited this year," said Peter Berdon, executive director of the WSWC. "Now in its third year, the high quality of the submissions shows that the contest has been successful in energizing the students and the state's universities in the fight against underage drinking. We look forward to continuing and expanding our partnerships with this contest and to do our part in combating underage drinking and drunk driving."

The first-place winner was "Team Independent" from Central, created by Josh Therriault. Team "S.W.E.E.T." of Sacred Heart University placed second. Team members included Stefanie DiGeronimo, Kali Harnad, Eric Place, Emilie Rosano, Danielle Adler, Sarah Tatlock, Linday Pucino, Tara Ilamathi and Sonia Clark. Team Independent's winning PSA will air on Fox 61 WTIC-TV, NBC Connecticut and WTNH-8.

Guests were welcomed by CCSU President Jack Miller following a reception in Founder's Hall. Jill Spineti, president of the Governor's Prevention Partnership, spoke on "The Myths of Underage Drinking." The keynote speaker, Jennifer Boyd, CPTV executive producer, Emmy Award-winning documentary producer and owner of Boyd Productions, LLC, addressed the guests on "Using the Medium to Make A Difference."

The contestants' submissions were scored by a panel of judges that included: Fedele; Commissioner of the state Department of Consumer Protection, Jerry Farrell, Jr.; Lieutenant J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police; Spineti; Emma Asante of NBC 30; Anne Fers of Gold Star Video; Executive Producer Jennifer Boyd from Connecticut Public Television; Representative Lonnie Reed; Dianne Harnad of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS); and UCONN Professor Dr. Carolyn Lin.

Now in its third year, the PSA Contest was created by WSWC to combat underage drinking and drunk driving. The WSWC PSA Contest is one of several programs initiated by the WSWC as part of its community relations program.

The WSWC is working in collaboration with The Governor's Prevention Partnership and other community stakeholders to achieve the common goal of reducing underage drinking. The contest is held annually and is open to any Connecticut college student.


Eastern Wins Higher Education Service Awards

Written by Jack Meltzer

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Ethan Harris '11 accepted award from DHE Commissioner Michael Meotti  on behalf of Jessica Dybdahl.

Willimantic, CT --  Students and faculty at Eastern Connecticut State University won three out of five first-place awards at the annual Connecticut Department of Higher Education (DHE) Community Service Awards on April 27 at DHE headquarters in Hartford. DHE Commissioner Michael Meotti, along with William Dyson, chair of the Connecticut Commission on Community Service, presented the awards. The awards honor student and campus service to the community; include a student award, a student group award and a special award.

Jessica Dybdahl '09, of Storrs, won the student award for her work establishing a relationship between Eastern students and 30 adult residents with mental and physical disabilities at Lyon Manor in Willington. Dybdahl turned a daily life of inactivity - smoking cigarettes, watching TV and sleeping - into a robust social interaction of game-playing, singing, story-telling, movies, birthday celebrations and trips to Eastern's campus. Ethan Harris '11 accepted Dybdahl's award on Dybdahl's behalf.

Eastern's chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) won first prize in the student group category for volunteering to increase food donations at the Willimantic Covenant Soup Kitchen, and for developing a computerized tracking system and website specific to the needs of the soup kitchen. AITP members designed systems to address food and supply inventory management, volunteer coordination and tracking of services provided to community families and individuals.



Alex Citurs, professor of Business Information Systems, is congratulated by DHE Commissioner Michael Meotti.

Alex Citurs, professor of Business Information Systems, was named recipient of the Special Award for engaging his students in projects that provide academic content and directly impact Willimantic organizations such as Windham Town Hall and the Covenant Soup Kitchen. Citurs's approach to developing student leaders  has been to directly apply their academic knowledge through community outreach projects to use their skills for good.

           This year, 18 Connecticut colleges submitted 46 nominations for the three awards.

Recipients were selected based on their ability to design projects which distinctly serve a

community; incorporate originality and unique approaches to community service;

substantially raise student participation; and address community problems.



Eastern Conservatives Club to Host Star Parker

Written by Dwight Bachman

starparker2.JPGWillimantic, CT -  Star Parker, television commentator, social/political analyst and founder of the Washington, D. C.-based Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), will speak from 3 to 4 p. m. on May 12 in the Student Center Theater at  Eastern Connecticut State University.  The public is invited.  Admission is free.

Parker is a former welfare cheat from Los Angeles. Her personal transformation from welfare fraud to conservative crusader has been chronicled in such national media as ABC's 20/20; the Rush Limbaugh Show; Readers Digest; The 700 Club; the Washington Times; Christianity Today; Charisma; World Magazine; the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Parker has authored three books: "White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay"; her autobiography, "Pimps, Whores and Welfare Brats: From Welfare Cheat to Conservative Messenger"; and "Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can Do About It." 

CURE is a think tank that focuses on issues of race and poverty in the media, inner city neighborhoods and public policy.  

Stephen Lyon, a graduating senior, said he believes the university and community continues to benefit from the work of the Eastern Conservatives Club, which is sponsoring Star's lecture. Founded in November 2009, the club recently hosted a non-partisan, "meet-and-greet the candidates" forum attended by multiple candidates for statewide office that included Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents and Green Party candidates.

            Conservatives Club members include Stephen Lyon, president; Zackary April, vice president; David Green, treasurer; and George Barr, secretary. Other members include John Lappie, Mike Laporte, Evan Perry, Joseph Serino, Bryan Jorge, and Kyle Puzacke.  Political Science Professor Christopher Vasillopulos serves as the club's advisor. 

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