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Steve Maurano
Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs & Community Relations​
(401) 865-2413

Chrissy Centazzo
Public Affairs and Community Relations Coordinator
(401) 865-2413​

2012 Commencement:
PC C​ommunity Service Initiatives

Providence College Students: Transforming Society


fuspic.jpgCommunity service initiatives are a vital part of the Providence College experience

Providence, R.I. - Providence College students annually volunteer nearly 60,000 hours at more than 200 community agencies, schools, and other non-profit sites in Greater Providence.  Volunteer service is provided through the Office of the Chaplain/Campus Ministry, the Feinstein Institute for Public Service, the Student Athlete Advisory Board, Residence Life, and many of Providence College’s student clubs, organizations, and service learning classes.

Among the notable service projects are the following programs that included direct collaboration with the City of Providence:

  • For the sixth consecutive year, PC students, alumni and staff worked with the City of Providence in Friars United for Service in Our Neighborhood (FUSION), a collaboration to refurbish historic landmarks and community parks in Providence.  This April, the group installed a new play structure, swing set, benches, and a safety surface at Corliss Park in Providence.  Providence Parks Department officials estimate that there has been more than $100,000 of labor donated to various projects by PC students, staff, alumni, and city employees in the first five years of this ten-year partnership.  To date, much of this work has occurred at the Esek Hopkins Homestead complex including new walkways and perimeter fencing in conformance with the historical structure, addition of a new turf soccer field, and playground apparatus on the adjoining athletic complex.  The unique partnership with city parks department officials was developed by the College’s President’s Council.  The council is a leadership group, comprised of senior executives from many of Rhode Island’s most prominent employers, who serve in an advisory capacity to the College’s president.  The FUSION effort matches PC undergraduates with young alumni/alumnae who graduated between 2000 and 2011, regional alumni club leaders, members of the National Alumni Association Board of Governors, and members of the President’s Council. FUSION is designed to facilitate networking and service opportunities among students, alumni, College neighbors, and members of the Greater Providence community.
  • Started in 2008, Smith Hill Rec Night is a collaborative effort of PC’s Feinstein Institute, the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence (ISPN), the Smith Hill Community Development Corporation, the Providence Recreation Department and the Providence Police Department.  The Feinstein Institute and ISPN are the lead organizers.  Rec Night involves one evening each week when 75-80 youth from the Smith Hill neighborhood and the Chad Brown housing project gather at a local park or rec center for sports, break dancing, tutoring, conversation, and pizza.  Many participants are gang affiliated.  Rec Night offers the youth a hospitable, safe space.  Since the start of this program, emerging conflicts have been more easily identified and mediated; the youth have a greater number of positive adults consistently in their lives; and a number of the youth have been steered towards positive activities such as a summer jobs program.
  • In the spring, six PC students volunteered to prepare returns for low-income city residents at a nearby nonprofit through an IRS program.  They completed the 40 hours of online and face-to-face training on tax law and the tax preparation software.  The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program trains people to provide free tax preparation to individuals and families who earn less than $50,000.  In the fall, IRS officials recruited Capital City Community Centers, in Providence’s Smith Hill neighborhood, to host a VITA site because there were few organizations in the area that provided the service.  The center has an early childhood learning program, before- and after-school care, and services for seniors in addition to a food pantry and caseworker services.  The program ensures that those who qualify for benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit are able to keep as much of their refund as possible — rather than spend part of that money to get it back.  As of early April, the volunteers at the center had completed 45 returns, getting $71,200 in refunds for clients back from the federal government.

Other service initiatives this academic year included:

  • Urban Action was launched in 1991 with 17 PC students volunteering the first year.  The program offers incoming freshmen an opportunity to spend their first days in Rhode Island's capital city of Providence improving the community that will be their "home away from home" for the next four years.  Incoming freshmen are invited to apply during the summer orientation program.  The program has grown to the point where now 150 students are selected to participate each year.  Led by 25 upperclassmen, these freshmen spend three days working at the end of August - rain or shine - on outdoor and indoor service projects important to the Providence community.  In 2010, Urban Action partnered with the Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy, a non-profit whose mission is to preserve the land of Neutaconkanut Hill, the only nature preserve in the city for future generations.  Since its inception, Urban Action has continued to thrive under the direction of student leaders, who have trained their successors with a passion for growing the program.  Since 1991, more than 3,000 students have volunteered thousands of community service hours to Urban Action, with many returning each year as upperclassmen leaders.
  • For the second consecutive year in April, more than 50 PC student members of the Accounting Association, MBA graduate students, faculty and PricewaterhouseCoopers Providence alumni, volunteered for a service project at St. Mary's Home for Children in North Providence.  They worked to help landscape the St. Mary's campus and also paint its dormitories.
  • The Feinstein Institute for Public Service, PC's Department of Education, and the Balfour Center for Multicultural Activities at Providence College partnered with three local high schools in EXPLORE!  The mission of the EXPLORE! program is to promote awareness of, access to, and readiness for college and career among first generation local urban high school students while, at the same time, supporting and enhancing the educational experiences of PC students.  The program includes weekly on-site after-school programming throughout the academic year and four days of PC campus programs for high school students and their parents in spring semester.  In the fall semester, PC students visit the schools to engage in a variety of formal and informal programming structured around a unique college readiness curriculum.  In summary, the EXPLORE! weekly programming curriculum is designed to target key aspects of youth identity and skill development so that the youth engaged in this program can identify, pursue, and achieve their goals in life.
March 2012 Spring Break Service Initiatives:

  • One hundred fifteen PC students spent their Spring Break working on behalf of Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge Program at 12 destinations across the country. Students helped build homes in Baltimore, MD; Buffalo, NY; Burlington, NC; Coatesville, PA; Concord, NC; Glade Spring, VA; Lewisburg, WV; Lexington, VA; Oak Ridge, TN; Pittsboro, NC; Wilmington, DE; and York, PA.
  • Twenty-three PC students served at the Outreach 360 program in the Dominican Republic. They assisted in the Teach Corps group project, which taught basic English vocabulary; and the Health Corps, which taught good habits in dental health, nutrition, and general hygiene.  Dr. Joseph DeGiorgis, assistant professor of biology, accompanied the students.
  • Eight PC students participated in a “Crossing Borders” service immersion trip in Tijuana, Mexico.  Students helped build a home for a family in need and volunteered at an orphanage and health center.  They also explored issues related to immigration and culture.  They were accompanied by Heather Whitney, service learning coordinator in the College’s Feinstein Academic Institute, and Stephanie Nunes, AmeriCorps VISTA representative.
  • Twelve PC students participated in a “Women and Health” immersion trip in Lima, Peru. Students worked at an orphanage for girls and with mothers and their children, educating them on health issues.  Accompanying the students was their advisor, Dr. Edgar Mejía, assistant professor of Spanish at PC.
Winter 2012 Break Service Initiatives:

  • Four PC students participated in the My Brother’s Keeper Urban Plunge from January 9-12. My Brother’s Keeper is a nonprofit organization in Easton, Mass. that delivers food and furniture to families in need.
  • Fourteen PC students spent their last week of winter break on the annual NOLA Immersion trip. Students volunteered at a number of service agencies in New Orleans, LA, critically analyzed the post-Katrina reality, and immersed themselves in the faith, food, and culture of the city and its residents.
The Providence College community also supported numerous charitable organizations:

  • More than 1,200 PC students, faculty, and staff members donated approximately $6,900 worth of toys, clothing items, bicycles, grocery store gift cards, and money to the 13 local families, including 38 children, through the Adopt-A-Family holiday giving program sponsored annually by the College’s Office of Residence Life.
  • More than 800 members of the Providence College community raised more than $75,000 for the American Cancer Society at the 2012 PC Relay for Life.  The College has hosted the event for the last 7 years and has raised more than $750,000 for the American Cancer Society.
  • The Office of the President and the Executive Vice President/Treasurer coordinated collections of seasonal and year-round adult clothing and other items for the “Mobile Loaves and Fishes” (MLF) organization.  MLF (Texas based) provides canteen trucks that serve hot and cold food to the homeless.  The outreach covers six states, including Rhode Island.  Items collected were men’s socks, underwear, and sweatshirts; blankets; duffel bags and backpacks; men’s and women’s winter hats and gloves; chapstick and toiletries.
  • The Department of Human Resources assisted the Ronald McDonald House in Providence in collecting items to support families with sick children at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.  Donated items included snacks such as microwave popcorn, individual packs of cookies and crackers, and juice boxes, as well as paper towels, trash bags, toothbrushes and toothpaste, deodorant, and soap.
  • The School of Continuing Education and the Eta Lambda chapter of Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honor Society for Adults in Continuing Education sponsored a Thanksgiving Food Drive, and collected canned and boxed food, frozen turkeys, and monetary donations/ grocery store gift cards for 20 families identified through D.A.R.E. (Direct Action for Rights and Equality).
  • The School of Continuing Education conducted an "Adopt-a-Family" Christmas drive via Capital City Community Center, in which they collected gifts, toys, and other items for a local family and one senior citizen.
  • The School of Continuing Education also sponsored an all-SCE volunteer opportunity to help out the RI Food Bank by sorting food collected during the annual Letter Carriers Drive.
  • The Providence College Student Athletic Advisory Council held the Mary House Benefit Shower, a baby item drive to benefit Mary House, which operates an emergency food pantry and offers daily meals, health fairs, mentoring, and clothing to Providence residents.  This event was one of many community service initiatives that helped PC student-athletes perform over 1,600 hours of community service this year.
  • The Office of the Chaplain/Campus Ministry held a “Giving Tree” outreach and collected more than 300 toys and clothing items.  The goods were donated to the Joslin Community Center and the Smith Hill Early Childhood Learning Center, both in Providence.
  • Faculty and student clubs in biology, chemistry and biochemistry, and engineering-physics-systems and the Office of the Chaplain/Campus Ministry collected books for distribution to the Textbooks for Ghana program.
  • Academic Affairs, in collaboration with the Feinstein Institute and Campus Ministry, collected personal care items during the 6th Annual April Showers Drive.  The donations filled about (10) grocery bags and benefited the guests at Mary House, the social service agency of St. Patrick’s Church.
  • Kevin Brawley ’12 (Rehoboth, Mass.), a member of Campus Ministry and a resident assistant at PC, worked with the Office of Student Affairs Administration and the PC Student Club Executive Council to provide toys and gifts for boys who attend the San Miguel School in Providence.  An independent, Lasallian middle school, San Miguel is for boys in grades 5 to 8 whose families have limited financial means.  The “Santa Shop” campaign culminated in December, when San Miguel parents came to campus to select gifts, which were wrapped by PC students. 
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