WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — For the sixth time in the past seven years, Eastern Connecticut State University has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). These results, for the 2013-14 academic year, were announced this fall.
Eastern was selected for the General Community Service category, which recognizes institutions that address local issues — particularly those affecting low-income individuals — such as education, health, economic opportunity, the environment and other human needs. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, and measurable outcomes as a result of the service.
“One of the projects that our application highlighted was the great work of the student club People Helping People (PHP),” said Kim Silcox, director of Eastern’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE). For the past 10 years, PHP has organized students to visit the High Chase residential care facility in Willington, CT, a home for 30 adult residents who are unable to live independently due to physical and mental disabilities.
Amy Greika, director of High Chase, said of the students: “The residents look forward to the students coming every week. The visits and interaction really assist the residents in gaining more social experience and helping them to better handle outside society’s circumstances.”
With a student population of approximately 5,300, in Eastern’s 2013-14 academic year nearly 1,900 students engaged in general community service or “service learning,” academic work that directly involves them in community efforts. Six hundred students volunteered more than 20 hours. In total, Eastern students completed 91,813 hours of community service.
“We are fortunate to have passionate students and community partners who are open to having our students volunteer,” added Silcox. Created in 2009, the CCE coordinates dozens of special events and long-term community programs, such as the Day of Giving, a Thanksgiving celebration that feeds hundreds of community members, and afterschool programs with Windham Public Schools.
College students across the country make a huge impact in terms of community service. According statistics compiled by the CNCS in 2013, 3.1 million students volunteered 118 million hours of community service; a value of $2.5 billion. The CNCS has administered the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll since 2006, recognizing colleges and universities that demonstrate a commitment to community and achieve meaningful, measurable outcomes through service.