Student Volunteer Fellows coordinate peers' community participation

For the seventh year, a team of Bates College students is coordinating a program that matches fellow students with volunteer opportunities in the Lewiston-Auburn region.

The seven Student Volunteer Fellows at Bates during the 2008-09 academic year are seniors Jessica Adelman of Waban, Mass.; Hiu Man Christine Chiu of Hong Kong; Anne Fischer of Far Hills, N.J.; Erin Gilligan of Windham; Julie Miller-Hendry of Bedford, Mass.; and sophomores Chelsea Pennucci of Mamaroneck, N.Y. and Diane Saunders of Durham, N.C.

The Student Volunteer Fellows support the volunteer program run by the Harward Center for Community Partnerships at Bates, a center designed to weave together campus and community for the enrichment of both liberal education and public life.

The Fellows coordinate volunteer projects for Bates students, with each Fellow responsible for a partnership with a particular community program. The Fellows help structure the Bates Volunteerism Program as a whole, they recruit and coordinate volunteers, and they participate in the various volunteer activities themselves.

Opportunities for volunteer work involve hundreds of Bates students every semester in projects ranging from Make-a-Difference Day to efforts with local youth like the Longley School Mentoring program.

Volunteering “is a way for me to connect with the community that I live in,” Miller-Hendry says. “Bates is lucky enough to have a wonderful program through the Harward Center that is committed to working with the community partners to really benefit both the students and the residents of Lewiston.”

Miller-Hendry coordinates the Bates volunteer program at Blake Street Towers, a public housing complex for residents who are elderly or disabled. Adelman works with the Hillview Afterschool Program, a Bates-run program at the Hillview Apartments community housing facility that provides homework help, games and activities for children.

Chiu facilitates Bates’ involvement with Lewiston Adult Education through the Lewiston Adult Learning Center and the College Transition Program, while Fischer works with the Longley School mentoring program. Gilligan coordinates the Montello School Reading Club and the America Reads and America Counts programs for Lewiston children.

Pennucci works with the Trinity Jubilee Center, recruiting Bates students to volunteer in the soup kitchen. Saunders coordinates group volunteer programs for Bates clubs and teams looking to make a difference in our communities.

“I strongly believe that what is important is not to force students to do community service, but instead make it clear that community service is not one specific thing,” Miller-Hendry says. “There are so many opportunities, from mentoring children to building houses to playing bingo with the elderly. Our goal as Student Volunteer Fellows is to make these opportunities as easy as possible for students.”

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