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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").


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