Spotlight on Student Service
Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, Incorporated
Alpha Phi Omega is a national coeducational service fraternity founded on three cardinal principles of leadership, friendship and service. The Alpha Delta Eta chapter at SUNY Albany was founded in 1925. The basis of the Fraternity's brotherhood comes from a foundation of shared beliefs, experiences, and an understanding of our fraternal history and goals. We live and serve under The Scout Law and Oath Loyalty and Service. Today the fraternity has 154 active brothers and only wishes to expand further. Alpha Phi Omega is the single most representative undergraduate intercollegiate organization in the United States of America.
As a community service organization, we volunteer throughout the week from the beginning to the end of the semester, even on holidays. We serve our campus by marshaling events and hosing campus cleanups. We give back to our community by volunteering at the Boys Scouts of America, Albany United Methodist Society, Regional Food Bank, and Habitat for Humanity. A favorite volunteer opportunity among the brothers is visiting The Daughters of Sarah Jacobs Massary, where we play board games and converse with the senior citizens residing in the center. It has become a permanent weekly activity, to write letters to current soldiers serving and veterans, volunteer at Goodwill and UAlbany's Don't Walk Alone. We partnered with Five Quad Volunteer Ambulance Service and hosted two blood drives this semester. APO volunteers at the annual Breast Cancer Walk, AIDS Walk, Child Abuse Walk, and Out of the Darkness Walk. We are strong supporters of Relay for Life, and this year raised $4, 747, earning the title of the organization that raised the most money at the university this year.
We hold our mission and goal to heart, and make sure we do the most we can in the name of community service. This semester, we have completed over 5,000 service hours and have fundraised over $1, 500. At the end of the semester we donate any remaining money to multiple charities. In addition to all of our volunteer work, we host fellowships such as movie nights, ice skating, bowling, and t-shirt tie-dye, dinner and lunch dates, to continue to strengthen our bond as friends and brothers. We are unified and extremely compassionate about what we stand for and what we do. Our aspiration is to continue to recruit people who selflessly devote their time, commitment and enjoy serving for the greater good. D.R.E.A.M. Org.
May 2012--Philippe Duval
D.R.E.A.M. Org. stands for Dedicating Resources to Educate and Motivate. We are a social change group working to motivate local high-school students to realize their goals and aspirations and achieve higher education. Dream was officially founded in Spring 2009 by four young UAlbany women. Their main goal was to reach out to local high school students and help unveil their true potential for achieving greatness.
We first started working at Green Tech Charter High School for boys, which opened Fall 2008. Through dedication to our mission we have no expanded to two additional sites: Achievement Academy Charter Jr. High, and most recently Albany Leadership Charter High School for girls, the only all girls charter high school in New York State
DREAM provides mentors to help put Albany-area high school students on the path towards their goals. We assist on various levels such as through our two-part mentoring sessions. The first focuses on academics where we monitor the progress of our students and provide them each with a mentor knowledgeable about a subject in which they may need to improve. We tutor the students in all subjects. The second half of the session consists of programs to prepare these young adults for achieving their life goals and overcoming obstacles along the way. Programs address: building resumes, financial aid applications, scholarship applications, college selection and the application process.
The population we work most closely with are low-income minority youth at risk of not attaining a full education. So our programs include discussions on current events and life situations that may affect their future, as well as how to handle these situations. Although children have the right to attend any school regardless of race, this population is associated with lower educational opportunities. We therefore seek to offer them the resources and motivation necessary to aid in their achievement.
Many of the students may not have a stable family environment. At DREAM we feel it is very important to form a solid bond with them and just be there for them. They may not have an adult role model so we volunteer our time to become that role model. We strive to be the factor that changes their lives forever because they are the adults of tomorrow. Their future is decided by the decisions they make today, and our mission is to ensure they make the right ones in the early stages of their lives.Psi Chi: The National Honor Society in Psychology
April 2012--Zachary Grieb, President, Psi Chi
Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology is not only an honor society, but a society that strives to better its community. Psi Chi has a healthy membership with over 80 active members. Throughout the semester our members can participate in a multitude of events. These events include participating in Relay for Life, raising money for various non-profits, spreading awareness about different Psychology specialties, and volunteering with Club Zoe.
Psi Chi has been actively involved with Club Zoe for over a year, with some members being actively involved for up to four years. Club Zoe is an after school program located in Albany, near Empire Plaza. The kids that attend this program are in an underprivileged area, although you would never know this from interacting with them. The club is run by Pastor Evelyn, or as the kids say Miss Evelyn, who is perhaps the nicest lady in Albany. Within Club Zoe, she sets up activities for the kids ranging from a basketball clinic, to "study buddies".
Psi Chi has been actively involved with the study buddies program, and because of one member, Michelle Feder, and the UAlbany Tae Kwon Do President Hannah Attard, we also provide a weekly Tae Kwon Do class. The class has been provided for four years now, and has become an exciting weekly event for the kids. Although some kids can only make the class once in awhile, we have had a couple students that have been with the class since in first started. We even have a student that is just a couple of belts away from earning his black belt.
We teach these Tae Kwon Do classes to teach the kids both self-defense and self-reliance. We hope that with what they learn they not only feel safe, but believe that they can control their lives. We believe that with this new found strength they can change not only their lives but the community at large. Working with the kids is not only a lot of fun and rewarding, but it is also a privilege to have been a part of their lives, and them ours. We look forward to continued classes and participation with Club Zoe for years to come.
One Event At a Time: Graduate Students Consistently Serving Communities
April 2012--Christine Preble, Vice President, Graduate Student Organization (GSO)
Throughout my two years of service as a member of the Graduate Student Organization's Executive Board, I have continually witnessed the exemplary achievements of my fellow graduate students. Most notably, such achievements are not exclusive to the classroom.
As Chair of nearly thirty graduate-run student groups (RGSOs), students who are steadily working on their Master's theses or Ph.D. dissertations have rallied together in support of events that benefit both students and the community. Such events include countless film screenings, performances, and speaker series dedicated to a wide array of issues benefiting the community such as (inter)national culture and politics.
Groups have also been active in local and regional planning and implementation of rallies in support of public higher education in New York State, (im)migrant rights, and the Occupy Movement.
During my tenure, the GSO Executive Board has spearheaded many initiatives to better serve the region. From trash clean up in downtown Albany to helping organize a coalition between the Albany school district and student groups on campus, it has been a pleasure working with many UAlbany administrators and leading community members.
This Spring, GSO will be a part of such major events as UAlbany's Relay for Life in association with the American Cancer Society as well as the American Foundation for the Suicide Prevention's.
I am truly honored to have worked for the GSO, UAlbany, and this region. I have gained a sense of pride in student government by working with students, helping to encourage a strong graduate student voice on a campus traditionally centered on undergraduate life.
It has taught me to be patient, diligent, and focused on meeting students' needs as well as rising to the occasion to help serve the community beyond the campus walls. I hope this commitment to community will continue as a legacy realized by the GSO and graduate students of UAlbany.Middle Earth: Realizing the Power of a Student's Dream
April 2012--M. Dolores Cimini, Ken Chan and Shuang Liang
It began with a student's dream. The Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program was started in 1970 in the spirit of students helping students. The 3 founding members were undergraduates seeking a grass-roots response to stresses facing college students and community members, including alcohol and other drug abuse, mental health concerns, homelessness, violence, and civil unrests. Today, still student-driven and professionally supervised, Middle Earth is one of the few surviving comprehensive service-learning organizations of its kind in the U.S.
Services include: (1) a campus and community hotline open weekdays 12 hours daily and weekends 24 hours a day;
(2) a peer education service which includes a national award-winning interactive peer theater program; and (3) a peer career advisement service with trained undergraduates assisting in our Career Services office. Our services, particularly the hotline, support our campus while also reaching across the nation and world. Requests are as varied as combat soldiers in Iraq seeking counseling and students and visiting scholars at universities from Washington State to Beijing wishing to start similar programs.
With 162 students, six faculty members, and more than 1,400 alumni, Middle Earth has helped train many UAlbany students who offer community service across varied professions and geographic scopes.
Our program has significantly helped improve quality of life and strives to save lives on campus, in the region, and beyond. During the 2010/11 academic year, 162 members donated more than 29,000 hours responding to 1,461 hotline calls from our campus and the wider community, 148 of which came from callers considering suicide or homicide. We delivered five national conference presentations, training college students and professionals from campuses around the nation about creating similar peer education and service programs. Surveys evaluating our services indicate that students who attend our educational programs increase their own commitment to being healthier and seeking help they may need.
What makes our program exceptional is that it has thrived and remained innovative in its work over the span of 42 years. It is the result of the power and commitment of students and the collaboration and support of UAlbany and community partners. In a society in which the apathy among college students is, unfortunately, too often highlighted, Middle Earth is an example of the realization of one student's dream and the long-term dedication that has transformed this dream into a sustained and nationally recognized service that is doing good in the world.Sustainability Council Reuses, Recycles, and Teaches Young Students to do the Same
March 2012--Jackie Mirandola Mullen
Sustainability at UAlbany does not stop at the campus borders. We on the Sustainability Council participate in the Capital District through elements of education, fund-raising, and donations.
The Sustainability Council formed in 2008, consists of 45 active members and is led by several committee chairs.
The Community Chairs, Mike Antidormi and Brad Machado, have spearheaded a program in which council members regularly visit the Montessori Magnet elementary school to talk about recycling and waste reduction. One lesson focused on having the students sort pictures of items into categories based on what was recyclable, trash, or compostable.
The council organizes the "Give and Go" program every spring semester. This is designed to find a home for the many dorm materials that students might not want to bring with them as they move off campus in May. Rather than throwing away furniture, household items, bedding, or food that could still be used, the materials can be placed in the special collection bins on campus. We then donate the items to local organizations, including the U.S. Committee on Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), First Lutheran Church homeless shelter and Peppertree Animal Rescue. Last year, we collected hundreds of items.
Annually, we sponsor the Green Grams sale, with the proceeds going to the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center, and the Earth Day clothing exchange. This year, we will be collecting items between March 25th and April 5th which will be put out on display at our Earth and Wellness Day event on April 19th. Leftover clothing is donated to the Capital Cities Rescue Mission.
Last year we were able to send 25 boxes of clothes and over $100 in monetary donations to the mission.
One of our more emotionally moving projects was collecting donations and helping with the clean up efforts in Schoharie County following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Seeing the devastation firsthand was very eye-opening and inspired us to plan return visits this semester.
Sustainability has many forms, from educating about conservation habits to preventing trash from entering local landfills. We take pride in helping the Albany community become more sustainable.
March 2012--Peter Rowell
The Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) is a community outreach group comprised of at least two members of every athletic team on campus. As student athletes, we realize that our responsibility to the school and community extends beyond the sidelines of our respective playing fields.
Through programs such as College for Every Student and Adopt-a-Family, we have found ways to both connect and give back to the community that supports us. SAAC is also active in the America East as a voice for student-athletes on the NCAA level, voting on legislation that affects everyone in college sports.
With College for Every Student, we hosted groups of elementary school children as they toured campus, specifically the athletic facilities. The children rotated around, experiencing tutorials of the different sports that the University at Albany has to offer as well as hearing the importance of education not only for being able to play sports in college, but for its importance in the real world when looking for a job.
Each year SAAC participates in the Adopt-a-Family program throughout the City of Albany. We are assigned approximately 10 different families and collect money from team members to complete the wish lists of the families. Beyond toys, many items on the lists are necessities (coats, hats, socks) which we also provide for the families.
This past fall, I had the opportunity to travel to Boston to meet with SAAC members of other America East schools to discuss both conference and national student-athlete issues.
After reviewing proposed legislation with other members of SAAC here at Albany we brought our collective opinions to Boston and voted on pieces of legislation that were to be put in front of the NCAA -- many concerning recruiting rules -- that would affect both current and future student athletes.
SAAC continues its work with outreach programs in the City of Albany, as well as being a voice for the student-athlete body on campus.
While many of our athletes' schedules are busy, we realize that the support we receive from the community as well as the university is unwavering, and we do our best to make sure that we return that support to others in the Capital Region.
February 2012--Angela Razzano
Circle K is an International community service organization dedicated to service, leadership and fellowship. The UAlbany Circle K club is a student-run organization of over 100 members sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Delmar and focusing on service within the Albany community and supports global causes such as UNICEF. Students' involvement in Circle K consists of a large variety of volunteer activities.
As a group, we work with local organizations such as the Capital City Rescue Mission, Ronald McDonald House, and Habitat for Humanity. A favorite activity of our members is volunteering at the Regional Food Bank in Latham. We help the organization sort out donated goods; we box and label them, and get them ready to be distributed. As many of our members would say, you never get the same job twice; our group has sorted everything from cleaning supplies to hams.
After meetings and on weekends we do small service projects on campus such as making "Make a Child Smile Cards" for sick children, writing letters to troops, making craft kits and "Boo-Boo Bunnies " for children in Albany Medical Center, and making dog toys for the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society. We also participate in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life each year.
In addition to these activities, last year we organized a book drive on campus through Better World Books, a not-for-profit organization which helps save used textbooks from landfills while promoting literacy worldwide. The UAlbany Circle K club saved over 150 textbooks and novels from the landfill and donated proceeds from the sale of these books to UNICEF and Invisible Children.
In April, we hosted a Charity Ball on campus to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Northeast New York. We had over 100 students in attendance and raised $1,500. In October, we organized another Charity Ball and raised $900 for the St. Jude's Children's Research Center.
Last year we received the Purple and Gold Award for Outstanding Service Leadership Group and are very proud of this recognition for our dedication to service, leadership and fellowship. Our club is always looking for new service projects and new ways to get involved in our local community. Helping others is an important part of our lives and Circle K will continue volunteering as long as there are people in need.
Presidential Honor Society
February 2012--Samantha Hiza
The Presidential Honor Society (PHS) is the largest service-based honor society on campus, currently represented by 400 active members. PHS was founded in 1991 by a group of students dedicated to scholarship, leadership, and service. We invite students each semester with a grade point average of 3.75 or higher and we take pride in our academic excellence. As leaders in the community, we partake in several different community service projects; the Ronald McDonald House, Capital City Rescue Mission, Western Avenue Clean Up, and Relay For Life are just a few. We as an organization do not take on a specific genre of service work, although as individual members we may choose to pick a certain issue to work toward.
I have been a part of PHS for four semesters and currently serve as Co-President. For the last two semesters, my main focus has been on The Roarke Center, a food pantry in Troy, NY. Over the past year I have volunteered at the Food Pantry once a week, helping put together grocery bags for the clients, tidying up the pantry, creating Thanksgiving baskets around the holiday, and any other odds and ends that they may need help with. Last semester PHS donated $400 worth of non-perishable food to the Roarke Center. This semester we will be having another drive, focused on greatly needed toiletry items. We are all aware that we have neighbors in our community who are in need and this has been a profound experience that has allowed me to associate a face with this concern.
As a member of PHS you have the freedom of choosing what kind of service you would like to be involved in. That is why, as a group, we touch the lives of so many in the community. Last year Presidential Honor Society raised over $1,000 for the American Cancer Society at the annual Relay for Life, and we are excited to participate again this year.
Being a PHS member is an honor and comes with many benefits, such as leadership opportunities, networking, resume building, and member scholarships. So far this year, Presidential Honor Society members collectively have contributed 4,000 hours of community service. We take pride in serving the University and community of Albany, and we consistently look for new and exciting ways to represent our core values of scholarship, leadership, and service.
"Fill-Up-The-Ambulance" Clothing and Food Drive
February 2012--Shoshana Jacobs
On November 26th and 27th of 2011, Five Quad Volunteer Ambulance took the UAlbany Campus by storm with our first ever "Fill-Up-The-Ambulance" Clothing and Food Drive. With drop boxes scattered around campus, and a team of about 30 participating members, Five Quad was able to collect 25+ boxes of used clothing and canned goods to donate to the Capital City Rescue Mission homeless shelter. Dorm storming was what brought in the most donations, and Five Quad is forever thankful for the generosity of both the faculty and students on campus for their thoughtful donations on reusable clothing items and imperishable food items. The project started as a simple idea to reach out to the community in another way – Five Quad VAS wanted to expand its horizons in a way that we had not yet done before.
Servicing the campus since 1973 with 24/7 emergency medical services has earned Five Quad a reputation of professionalism, brotherhood, and university pride. Five Quad VAS consists of approximately 80 members and provides first response service for the UAlbany community and the surrounding area. We offer CPR classes to the community as well as provide coverage for concerts, the Speaker Series, graduation, rugby games, football games, and New York Giants training camp. Five Quad VAS is unique in that we are the only ambulance service in the Capital Region that does not charge for our services, thus contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in transports to the communities we serve.
Five Quad VAS is forever expanding and testing out new waters; the clothing drive was one more tradition to add to the list of ways that we help the University community. At the end of the drive, all food and clothing items were sorted and delivered to the Capital City Rescue Mission homeless shelter on a rainy Thursday afternoon. The collections were estimated to provide about a week of supplies for the shelter to sell at their store, Blessingdales, which provides inexpensive goods to the homeless and helps keep the shelter on its feet. "This clothing drive has been a very interesting and fulfilling project", says EMT and Corp Historian Le-Nguyen Jen of Biloxi, Mississippi. "Home is very far away for me, and so Five Quad has been my family for the past 3 years. I know Five Quad VAS will never stop servicing the community – it's what we love and it's who we are."
Leaders in Service Program: Students Develop As Leaders through Serving Communities
Leaders in Service (LIS) was introduced to UAlbany's campus during the Spring, 2009 semester with the collective support of the Department of Residential Life and the Division of Student Success. Each year, we formally introduce about 20 students to community service in the Capital Region, though other students are encouraged to serve as well. Participation in each project ranges from a few to well over 50.
As a long-term goal, LIS seeks to encourage students to continue their involvement in community service on the campus, within the region, throughout the nation, and abroad. Our participants engage in both leadership development opportunities and community service projects. The two components have gone hand-in-hand – developing leaders through service.
Since 2009, our members have helped build five homes with Habitat for Humanity, benefiting several low-income families in the region. Further, hundreds of our volunteers have prepared and served meals to countless individuals through Equinox, the Regional Food Bank/Farm, and the JC Club. We have assisted with cleaning facilities for Meals on Wheels and worked in Schoharie County to help with rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Irene.
LIS has a special commitment to the region's youth. Our volunteers have donated extensive time and energy to the Police Athletic League for the Annual Hannaford Capital Holiday Lights in Washington Park to support PAL's programs for youth. We work with Girls Inc. as tutors and mentors and assist the Ronald McDonald House by providing and wrapping gifts for children.
Our Leaders in Service members have also benefited from NCBI diversity training and the option of obtaining course credit through the Community and Public Service Program or the newly implemented World of Service.
Additionally, we work to stimulate awareness of critical issues in our region and society through the many distinguished speakers and trainers participating in our Speaker Series. They have included City of Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings; Albany District Attorney David Soares; 2009 mayoral candidate Corey Ellis; 2010 -11 John W. Ryan Fellow in International Education, Dr. Robert Gosende; Assistant Professor, School of Social Welfare, Dr. Heather Larkin; Sage College Professor of Business, Dr. John Marsh; and Founder of Peter Young Housing, Industries, and Treatment, Father Peter Young.
Students who have participated in LIS have found it a great launching pad to connect with the region and world in many meaningful ways. See what some of them say in the companion article on this page.
Third World Impact in Uganda
January 2012--Natalie Wallace
Third World Impact (TWI) is a student-run organization at UAlbany that focuses its efforts on increasing awareness of the conditions of the developing world, as well as on engaging in active work to help alleviate the difficulties faced by some of the world's impoverished. Two years ago we partnered with The Giving Circle, a nonprofit based in Saratoga, to construct the first pre-school in the Ugandan village of Wairaka. This past summer, I was among four UAlbany students accompanying The Giving Circle volunteers to Uganda. Though the establishment of the school is our main focus for now, we also visited the women's prison outside of Jinja, delivering new blankets, clothes, and toys to both the women and their children. Additionally, our trip included working with the women crafters of Wairaka to help them learn develop skills to further their micro business.
Approaches to development and aid are controversial subjects in the contemporary moment. Though Third World Impact and The Giving Circle are deeply invested in improving living conditions in Uganda and beyond, we also strongly emphasize the idea of providing aid and support while simultaneously respecting the existing cultures, beliefs, and practices of the people we aim to benefit. The unwavering optimism, friendliness, and compassion of the villagers in the face of malnutrition, disease, and poverty is utterly remarkable, and only serves to show that we in the U.S. have much to understand about the cohesiveness of a society that serves not only economic values, but also human values.
This semester, Third World Impact is preparing events such as a banquet dinner in collaboration with the Muslim Student Association, and a program entitled "Beauty of the Third World," in which we hope to illuminate some of the incredible cultural facets of many different nations. The money raised through most of our events will go towards the projects underway in Uganda, which now include work in Kagoma Gate, a village near Wairaka experiencing the ravages of poverty at its worst. We plan to construct bathrooms in the village, provide access to vaccinations and medicine, and eventually begin work on another school. The future of Third World Impact's work in Africa is expanding. Our hope is to begin our work in Zimbabwe, in partnership with The Giving Circle, in the coming years.
Education is Priceless: Junior Grooves
January 2012--Fl Tony Davis and Fl Francis Agyemang
Junior Grooves is a mentorship program coordinated by Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship Inc., which is geared towards reaching out to high-school-aged men. During high school, teenagers are entering early adulthood, where environmental and social factors, and peer pressure often can cause them to make decisions that impinge upon their chances of graduating, going to college, or starting a successful career. In many circumstances, youth with exceptional academic potential and talent, fall victim to circumstances beyond their control such as bad neighborhoods, lack of parental guidance, and economic hardship. Part of the purpose of Groove Phi Groove is to address social and economic problems concerning boys and men; thus Junior Grooves was initiated.
Junior Grooves activities usually take place on the weekends; members of Groove Phi Groove mentor high-school-aged males in different ways. Help with homework is offered, advice to solve problems is given, and Grooves communicate that a troublesome life on the "streets" is not the only option. The name was created because the high school men who are mentees are called "Junior Grooves." Over the past few years members of Groove Phi Groove have taken the Junior Grooves to campus activities such as cookouts, fraternal gathering, step shows, and informational programs to incite their interest in attending college. The major benefit of Junior Grooves is that brothers of Groove Phi Groove can relate to students they mentor in the sense that they are close in age, and have experienced and overcome many similar hardships. Currently there are 5 junior Grooves from the Albany area who are mentored by the brothers of Groove Phi Groove (Great Danes Chapter).
In the spring of 2011, the brothers of Groove Phi Groove raised money from benevolent donations and awarded a book scholarship of $1,000 to a graduating high school senior member of Junior Grooves. The scholarship recipient Chavez Gibbs was accepted into Johnson & Wales University, is majoring in Culinary Arts, and plans to open his own restaurant upon graduating. This was an impressive feat given that the money was raised within the Great Dane Chapter of Groove Phi Groove without assistance from the national organization. One of Groove Phi Groove's goals has always been giving back to the community and helping the underprivileged, the success of the Junior Grooves program clearly illustrates that this is being accomplished.
Students Investing Their Efforts into the Future Leaders of the World
December 2011--Sara Molnick
As we persevere through this economic recession, it is important for us to educate the future leaders of the world; children and young teens. That is why we need to educated them on financial responsibility and their role in the economy. On November 4, about 100 students from the University at Albany's School of Business came together at in Albany to take part in the annual Bowl-a-Thon hosted by Junior Achievement (JA) of Northeastern New York. JA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the future leaders of the world about business, economics, and financial literacy.
Participants of this event included the accounting fraternity also known as Beta Alpha Psi, the American Marketing Association, Albany Business Leaders Emerging, Sigma Pi Epsilon, graduate students from the University's MBA program, and administrators. In total, these people raised more than $500.
Through age-appropriate curricula, JA programs begin at the elementary school level, teaching children how they can impact the world around them as individuals, workers and consumers. JA programs continue through the middle and high school grades, preparing students for additional key economic and workforce issues they will face in the future.
Several students from the School of Business currently volunteer for JA. Volunteers go into local middle schools and high schools in the Albany region to conduct these educational programs. For example, Amy Yahsu Wan, a senior and a marketing and finance major, serves as a volunteer for a third grade class at the Public School 6 in Troy. Wan says, "At the third grade level, students discover how different businesses contribute to a city. We also teach them what it takes to become an entrepreneur. They love it."
R.A.C.E Helps Capital Region Youth Succeed
November 2011--Joel Livingston
Reclassifying All Children Equally (R.A.C.E). I serve as President.
R.A.C.E. is a student-operated organization of 77 members focusing on educational and social change initiatives. We provide tutoring and mentoring services to disadvantaged youth in Albany to motivate them to do better both in and out of the classroom. We work with non-profits such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Albany Police Athletic League, and the Science & Technology Entrance Program. We also work with schools in Albany, such as Eagle Point Elementary School, Pine Hills Elementary School, & Albany Preparatory Charter School. Every weekend members participate in community service projects such as Habitat for Humanity, JC Children's Feeding Center, and Kids Day at Reigning Life Family Church.
Annual events include "Step 4Ward" Day and our Youth Talent Showcase with the Sisters with Pride Organization. "Step 4Ward" Day encourages middle school students to "step 4ward" a couple of years to think about college. Just recently, 81 8th graders from Albany Preparatory Charter School attended this second annual event. Although they have several years until they go to college, it's NEVER too early to start thinking about college. By putting this information right at their fingertips, we hope that they feel confident and excited to attend college! The purpose of the Youth Talent Show is to showcase the talents of kids all over the Capital Region and boost their confidence.
I am proud that R.A.C.E. has received several awards including the Community Service Award of the 2011 University at Albany President's Award for Leadership, The Dr. Seth W. Spellman Achievement Award for Community Service, and The Student Association's 2011 Purple & Gold Award for Most Involved in the Community At-Large.
SAAC Fights Cancer with Autumnfest
November 2011--Amina Vaughan
The Students of Albany Against Cancer (SAAC) is a community service based organization that raises awareness and funding to help aid the American Cancer Society in the fight against cancer. SAAC organizes and volunteers their services for several events throughout the fall and spring semester. We most recently volunteered at Hope Club in Latham, where we were celebrating Autumnfest, on October 29, 2011.
Autumnfest is an annual event organized by Hope Club volunteers and serves to bring families affected by cancer together amongst the joys of Halloween. Hope Club is the sanctuary for cancer survivors, fighters, and caregivers who work together in the battle against cancer. It is a place where survivors are specifically treated as VIP's, honoring their courageous fight against cancer and acknowledging their victories for the great accomplishments that they are. It is a place where survivors can truly feel the appreciation of others who are inspired by their ongoing battle with the disease.
Autumnfest allows all participants, especially those affected by cancer, to block out the bad and find the joy that they may feel is missing from their lives. While volunteering at Autumnfest, SAAC hosted a haunted house, which has been a recurrent highlight of the event overall. From the smoky tombstones to the eerie laughter and dreadful skeletons that lined the dimly lit halls, the event offered a true adrenaline rush for all of our participants. It was made even more special by the fact that many of those participants were children who might otherwise have been unable to attend because their parents had a recent cancer diagnosis.
It was really special to me to have the opportunity to do something like this. Autumnfest was a nice way for families to celebrate life together. Everyone had a great time and it felt great to be able to provide for the Hope Club members and feel like I truly made a difference. As SAAC President Alexa Derkasch has said, "Autumnfest is an event full of special moments that can be appreciated by everyone involved. It gives the families affected by cancer the opportunity to smile and laugh with their children and to hold their hands while appreciating the time that they have left together." Not to mention we also had a great time scaring the kids and adults alike.
ABLE Renews Elementary School Playground
On Saturday October 8th, 56 members of Albany Business Leaders Emerging, a SUNY Albany business club, participated in a community service event at Lincoln Elementary School in Schenectady, New York. We worked to create a lasting effect on the school and surrounding community. The members of ABLE collaborated to improve the overall appearance of the school by cleaning up garbage, weeding the school perimeter, painting the pavement, adding a football field, and making a basketball court within the Lincoln Elementary playground. The process was a success for ABLE members, the students of Lincoln Elementary, and residents of the community. Each member dedicated six hours of service to the cause adding up to an astonishing three hundred and thirty six hours of commitment and hard work.
This is the second year that ABLE has taken part in assisting Lincoln Elementary in becoming a stronger learning environment . Last year, we painted the school hallways yellow, introducing a bright and welcoming atmosphere to the Lincoln Elementary halls. When Pedro Roman, the school principal, asked for ABLE's participation in the "Peaceful Playground" project, members eagerly obliged. The members of ABLE took advantage of the chance they were given to interact and socialize with some of the students of Lincoln Elementary. The opinions of the children were regarded as highly important because they represented the school and community that we were working to benefit. We hoped to encourage the children to be active in their community and to leave them with a feeling of accomplishment for the work they contributed. for all children who attend the school, with hopes that the right environment will take part in ensuring a successful future for all students. A clean, colorful, and stimulating environment provides a positive environment for children, potentially decreasing bullying and playground mischief. Principal Pedro Roman said "The outside of the school is the first indicator people take into account for what happens inside our school." For every member of ABLE who took part, it is satisfying to know that our actions make a difference in the lives of these children, as well as supporting the Lincoln Elementary School reputation of being a rapidly improving school. ABLE's dedication provided children and the community with hope, happiness, and the drive for further improvements.