The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) recently honored the nation’s leading colleges and universities for their commitment to volunteering, service learning, and civic engagement. The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) was named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.The honor roll, launched in 2006 by CNCS, acknowledges higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. USJ was one of 14 institutions in Connecticut to be recognized this year; nationwide, 690 institutions of higher learning were honored.
USJ supports community engagement in a variety of areas by encouraging strong ethical values, personal integrity and a sense of responsibility to the needs of society. For the past seven years, USJ has been operating the Wellness Center, a partnership with the Franciscan Center for Urban Ministry, an outreach program of St. Patrick - St. Anthony Church in downtown Hartford. Through this partnership, students, faculty and staff work with a variety of outreach programs serving the poor and those in need. During the weekly Sandwich Ministry, USJ students serve food; nursing students provide health screenings (blood pressure/sugar testing); nutrition students provide nutritional information; and other student volunteers sit and talk with the clients. From July, 2011 to June, 2012, USJ students helped serve 966 people through the Wellness Center. All students involved with the Sandwich Ministry are able to see the Mercy Values - supported through the mission of USJ - in action and gain valuable experience.
USJ students also work with many other programs such as: an after-school mentoring program for fifth grade students; a yearly Alternative Spring Break Trip to work on a Habitat for Humanity Build; numerous park clean ups; participation in a number of local soup kitchens as well as numerous fundraisers. In the 2011 - 2012 academic year, a total of 1,803 USJ students engaged in 13,367 hours of community service.
“We are extremely proud of our students and the community organizations who have partnered with us,” said Beth Fischer, RSM, ’76, director of community and civic engagement at USJ. “Through a variety of hands-on service experiences, our students empower and inspire each other to do even more. These collaborative opportunities also help students develop leadership and citizenship skills that serve them in their future careers.”
CNCS manages the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the American Council on Education and Campus Compact. “Communities are strengthened when we all come together, and we are encouraged that these institutions and their students have made service a priority,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Civic engagement should be a key component of every student’s education experience. Through reaching out to meet the needs of their neighbors, these students are deepening their impact, strengthening our democracy and ultimately preparing themselves to be successful citizens.”