“I applied because I really wanted to help people,” said Roni Urena ’16 (Spanish/Latin American Studies) of Saturdays of Service, a new volunteer program for students that was introduced last semester. “It was an awesome experience. Fourteen students, different majors, different backgrounds, we all just came together as a whole and were able to feed the hungry.”
The theme of the fall semester’s program was “Feeding the Hudson Valley: Food Insecurity and Sustainability,” which resonated deeply with another participant, Vicki Messinger ’16 (Communication Disorders). “I’m from a very rural town, so the theme of sustainable agriculture was important to me,” she said. “It was an almost indescribable experience. We all worked really hard but it was also a lot of fun. It was really rewarding to help out as much as we did in New Paltz and our neighboring communities. It also taught me to be able to open up and work together as part of a team.”
Service Learning Coordinator Erica Wagner (Career Resource Center) described the program as “an opportunity for students to volunteer in the Hudson Valley community over the course of one semester in a fun and also very meaningful way.” In addition to the three Saturdays of volunteer service, students also participated in educational activities to prepare themselves for the work and follow-up sessions to talk about what they’d experienced.
The fall program included serving visitors at Queens Galley in Kingston, preparing soil for the next planting season and harvesting vegetables at Brook Farm Project in New Paltz, and packaging and sorting boxes for delivery at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York in Latham. The theme for the spring 2014 program is “Supporting and Educating Children in the Hudson Valley.”