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University Garners National Recognition for Community Service

Old Dominion was named recently to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the U.S. Department of Education.

ODU was among 642 schools named to the Honor Roll, which recognizes the nation's leading colleges and universities, students, and faculty members and staff for their commitment to bettering their communities through community service and service learning.

ODU's Office of Community Engagement submitted three examples of community service for Honor Roll consideration. They included two programs sponsored by the university's Center for Service and Civic Engagement (CSCE) - Veterans Day of Service: Call to Service and Sleep-out for the Homeless - and CARE NOW, a partnership program developed in ODU's Darden College of Education that is designed to promote the character and resiliency, and ultimately enhance the academic achievement, of students in selected local public schools.

"Through service, these institutions are creating the next generation of leaders by challenging students to tackle tough issues and create positive impacts in the community," said Robert Velasco, acting CEO of CNCS. "We applaud the Honor Roll schools, their faculty and students for their commitment to make service a priority in and out of the classroom. Together, service and learning increase civic engagement while fostering social innovation among students, empowering them to solve challenges within their communities."

"Preparing students to participate in our democracy and providing them with opportunities to take on local and global issues in their course work are as central to the mission of education as boosting college completion and closing the achievement gap," said Eduardo Ochoa, the U.S. Department of Education's assistant secretary for postsecondary education.

"The Honor Roll schools should be proud of their work to elevate the role of service-learning on their campuses. Galvanizing their students to become involved in projects that address pressing concerns and enrich their academic experience has a lasting impact - both in the communities in which they work and on their own sense of purpose as citizens of the world. I hope we'll see more and more colleges and universities following their lead."

The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. Inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, the initiative celebrates the transformative power and volunteer spirit that exist within the higher education community.

According to Tami Park Farinholt, the director of ODU's CSCE, a division of the Office of Student Activities and Leadership, an estimated 11,000 ODU students take part in community service activities each year, accounting for nearly 375,000 hours of service hours annually.

The following is a summary of the three programs the ODU Office of Community Engagement submitted as examples of community service undertaken by the university:

Veterans Day of Service: Call to Service

This event is co-sponsored by Blue Star Families, a national nonprofit that supports families of deployed service members as well as Mission Serve, a civilian-military coalition connecting military families through service and partnership

This event was one of 20 national events taking place on Veterans Day last year. It featured Virginia Sen. Mark Warner as a guest speaker and volunteer. Volunteers wrote 2,000 letters and filled 400 care packages for families of deployed service members, including goods donated by Wal-Mart. In all, 202 students participated, resulting in 404 hours of service. An estimated 1,000 individuals were reached. The event also attracted significant media and community attention.

Sleep-out for the Homeless

This is an annual event in which students, faculty, staff and community members are encouraged to spend one night outdoors experiencing homelessness. It was presented in partnership with the Dwelling Place, the only local shelter that accepts and works to keep together homeless families in the region. Participants are given a typical soup kitchen meal and hear talks by former homeless citizens. When the meals and presentations are over, participants are left to spend the night out with no entertainment, and only a police officer to watch them.

This event serves as a fundraiser and donation drive for the Dwelling Place. At Last year's sleep-out, 200 students participated, equaling 2,000 service hours. Twenty faculty and staff members also participated, totaling 200 service hours. It was estimated that the event served 500 people. Sleep-out for the Homeless was co-sponsored by the Omicron Iota chapter of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.

CARE NOW

CARE NOW is a comprehensive program designed to promote the character and resiliency of K-12 students, with the primary goal of enhancing academic achievement. CARE NOW (Character and Resilience Education NOW) is provided in and after school, making it a unique and innovative approach. It is a partnership among the Norfolk and Hampton school divisions, ODU and the Norfolk Bureau of Youth Development.

CARE NOW's most important goal is easing the transition of students to middle school and high school. The focus is on students with poor academic achievement, limited social consciousness, insufficient coping skills and poor socio-emotional skills. The program works in middle schools and high schools where students exhibit higher-than-average rates of failure, truancy, dropout, disciplinary infractions and poor relationships with school personnel, family and the community at large.

ODU students work as advocates in the classrooms and after school. They conduct weekly guidance lessons and intentional recreation activities, addressing character and resilience, both during and after school. The program is administered by the ODU Darden College of Education's Recreation and Tourism Studies program in the Department of Human Movement Sciences and Department of Counseling and Human Services, Norfolk's Bureau of Youth Services, Norfolk Public Schools and Hampton Public Schools.

The program is partially funded by a 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant from the Virginia Department of Education (nearly $200,000) awarded to Tammi Milliken, assistant professor of counseling and human services, and Eddie Hill, assistant professor of human movement sciences, in conjunction with the city of Norfolk. Eighty ODU students and three ODU faculty/staff members (Eddie Hill, Jennifer Goff and Tammi Milliken) participate, and more than 2,000 service hours have been devoted to the program per principal investigator. The ODU students tutor/mentor more than 500 students annually.

This article was posted on: April 11, 2012

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Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.