Last February, dozens of students, faculty and administrators donned head scarfs to support “Hijabi for a Day” to raise awareness and spark dialogue regarding religious and cultural customs.
And on a Saturday in October, nearly 500 members of the Union community helped spruce up the city and surrounding area for the 20th annual John Calvin Toll Day.
Those two events were among many that helped the College earn recognition again on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service to the local community.
This marks the fifth time in the past six years the College has
earned this honor, the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to volunteering, service learning, and civic engagement.
Union was named to the honor roll in four categories: general community service, interfaith community service (with distinction), economic opportunity and education.
“Service and higher education go hand in hand,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “These schools are inspiring young leaders to roll up their sleeves and work alongside community members to solve problems. By recognizing the institutions who are leading the way to achieve meaningful, measurable results for the communities they serve, we also highlight the vital role all colleges and universities play in addressing community challenges and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement.”
In 2013-14, 1,307 students volunteered 10 hours or more a week, contributing more than 27,500 hours of community service projects, including tutoring local schoolchildren, helping area residents secure tax refunds through the state Volunteer Income Tax Assistant Program (VITA) and volunteering for “Good Eats,” a collaboration in healthy cooking and meal preparation between the College and Schenectady ARC.
In addition, a number of interfaith volunteer programs were cited, including “Hijabi for a Day,” a Native American storytelling event and “Union Gets Hitched,” when six mock weddings honoring different traditions were held in Jackson's Garden last spring: Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Baha'i, Christian, Buddhist and Ethiopian. All the wedding gifts (mostly hygiene products) were donated to the YWCA shelter for women.
“Union’s commitment to community service is a key part of the College’s Strategic Plan,” said Angela Tatem, director of the Kenney Center. “We are fortunate the center is located off campus, making it more accessible for students and neighbors and allowing us to honor our promise to serve.”