Spring term sees a flurry of community service

Publication Date

By: Dorothy Hazan '16

Spring at Union brings a flurry of community service projects at Union. Here’s a round up of some of what’s happening on campus:

The Kenney Community Center and Wells House are hosting their annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet, May 21 at College Park Hall, open to everyone in the campus community. There will be students, faculty, administrators, and community members present to celebrate Union’s service to the community. Mike Saccocio, Director of City Mission, will be the keynote speaker, along with awards and entertainment.

Every Tuesday through Friday, the Kenney Center has after-school programs for local elementary school students. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are Homework Help days, when kids bring their homework and Union volunteers help them, share a snack and play games together. Friday is ABC (Arts, Books and Crafts), which is reading with a Union volunteer and then doing a craft activity. Students lead the programs: HW Program leaders this year are Christian Garcia ‘14, Joe Fitzpatrick ‘14, Julia Tierney ’15 and Jai Kahlon ‘15. ABC Leaders are Jennifer Sexton ‘15, Kathleen Portillo ‘14, Emily Brower ’14 and Shilpa Darivemula ‘13.

The Junior Science Program is held on Thursdays at the Kenney Center for grades 4 through 6. About eight kids come to do fun science activities with Union volunteers, led by Maria Dreeszen ‘14.

The Student Volunteer Committee meets monthly to plan service events and activities. In Feb. we had Random Acts of Kindness Week on campus. We have SVC Saturdays several times each month, most recently at Bethesda House (sorting clothing) and Schenectady Inner City Ministry Day of Service.

Empty Bowls Project fundraiser was held recently to raise awareness about hunger issues in our community. The Kenney Center supported this student-led endeavor that raised over $3,000 for Bethesda House, City Mission and Concerned for the Hungry. Jennifer Sexton ’15 was the main organizer of the event.

Girls Leadership Training was held on campus May 2 for local ninth graders, coordinated by the students of Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society, the members of Leading Ladies, and the Kenney Center.

The Kenney Center’s second annual Bottle and Can Drive is currently underway. All money collected will raise money for improvements to South Avenue Park, a small playground just down the road from campus on the corner of Park Place and South Avenue. It had been in terrible shape until a couple of years ago when students and staff (led by Connie Schmitz in Facilities) began fixing it up. Bottles and cans can be dropped off at the Kenney Center, or people can call or email the Kenney Center to pick them up.

Alpha Delta Lamda is partnering with the Kenney Center for their Mini Free Library Project. The project will set up small structures in public places to provide a free library to anyone who would like a book. The idea is to take a book and leave a book. Libraries will be constructed on the Friday of ReUnion weekend. The Kenney Center is in the process of acquiring funding and getting permission from Schenectady to put the libraries in parks, etc.

The Science and Technology Entry Program is one of the biggest programs run by the Kenney Center. It is funded by NYS Department of Education and serves middle and high school students. Union students serve as mentors during the academic year and summer programs. The purpose is to encourage underrepresented youth to pursue STEM fields. We are currently interviewing for 9 summer mentors.

The Union Men's Lacrosse and Men's Football Teams hosted a Bone Marrow Registration Drive sponsored by the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation on Thursday, May 16 in Hale House. The Gift of Life is a national organization that helps find donors of bone marrow and blood stem cell transplants for people suffering from degenerative diseases such as lymphoma and leukemia. If notified that someone is a match, donation can be as simple as having blood drawn to abstract stem cells from your blood to be used to regenerate bone marrow.

Union SAAC Family Feud had 18 teams this year and raised $360 for Kristen’s Kause. The two-night event had teams from Alumni Relations, Health Services, Men’s Swimming and Diving, Athletic Training, Men’s and Women’s Crew, Women’s Golf, Davidson Hall and Women’s Ice Hockey in the final night of competition. The Women's Golf Team ended up taking home the grand prize for the event.