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Steve Maurano
Associate Vice President for Public Affairs, Community and Government Relations​
(401) 865-2413
Chrissy Centazzo
Public Affairs, Community and Government Relations Specialist
(401) 865-2413

Providence College Commencement 2014


Providence College Students: Transforming Society

Community service initiatives are a vital part

of the Providence College experience


Providence College students annually volunteer nearly 49,000 hours at more than 150 community agencies, schools, and other non-profit sites in Greater Providence.  Volunteer service is provided through the Office of the Chaplain/Campus Ministry, the Office of Student Affairs, the Feinstein Institute for Public Service, the Student Athlete Advisory Board, and many of the 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 eighth 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 focused their efforts at Corliss Park in the Wanskuck section of Providence and built a community garden.  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 eight years of this ten-year partnership.  To date, much of the 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 2013, 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.
  • 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 3,200 students have volunteered thousands of community service hours to Urban Action, with many returning each year as upperclassmen leaders.
  • The Feinstein Institute for Public Service at PC partnered with five local high schools through the EXPLORE! program. The mission of EXPLORE! 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.

Other service initiatives this academic year included:

  • Friar Food Rescue is an organization started by two PC students in 2012 that has grown to nearly 25 volunteers this year.  Last year, Dave O’Connor ’14 and Nick Canessa ’14 got together with the school’s food service provider, Sodexo, to arrange to have unused dining hall food packed up and frozen.  The two students delivered the food once a week to McAuley House, a homeless shelter in Providence.  This year, the students deliver six days a week to four centers around area of the college.  PC was one of the first eight colleges to join the Food Recovery Network, a national organization started at the University of Maryland that recovered leftover (unused) food from Dining Halls.  This year, with Friar Food Rescue’s foundation in place, the students have focused on growth, taking on more student volunteers, and finding other places to accept the rescued food.
  • Nearly 25 PC students and staff kicked off their spring semester by participating in a national day of service (MLK Day of Service) on January 20, 2014, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The service event began with training and reflection on service and human dignity, followed by a presentation from the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence.  The days following, the students rehabilitated a housing unit and empty lot in the Smith Hill neighborhood.  Later in the day, the students joined Smith Hill residents for an open mic night session and potluck dinner at the PC/Smith Hill Annex, also located in Providence.
  • The second annual Faith Works service immersion program took place in August.  More than 40 PC students participated in the program for incoming freshmen.  The program is sponsored by Campus Ministry in collaboration with the Catholic Charities staff at the Diocese of Providence.  Faith Works enables new PC students to build community with their peers, perform service work for vulnerable populations in Providence, and reflect on the significance of this work for their own lives.  The participants worked at service sites in the Diocese of Providence, including Emmanuel House, a day shelter for the homeless; the St. Martin de Porres Center, a senior service center; and the diocese’s Office of Life and Family, as well as Immigration and Refugee Services.  Students also toured facilities at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections to learn more about the chaplaincy services that are provided.
  • Six members of Dirigo, the honor society for students who have excelled as leaders during their college career, conducted a leadership workshop for Reach Out, a leadership organization for junior and senior students at a local high school in Hyannis, Mass.  The PC student members designed and led a four-hour workshop that focused on email etiquette, public speaking, and service.  Arrangements for the workshop were made by Emily Pierson ’09 & ’13G, who teaches in the Spanish and theology departments at the high school.
  • More than 100 female PC student-athletes from field hockey, softball, ice hockey, track, cross-country, soccer, and tennis volunteered at the Girls On the Run RI (GOTRRI) 5K event on campus this fall.  The student-athletes first wrote individual letters to participants, sharing feelings of encouragement and confidence with the girls before their big race day.  GOTRRI is a non-profit development program for girls ages 8-13.  While the participants ran through campus, PC student-athletes stood at every turn with shouts of encouragement and supportive cheers.
  • Nearly all of the 350 PC student-athletes, representing all 19 varsity sports, participate in a range of community service throughout the academic year.  In total, they raised $27,700 for various charitable organizations for 2013-14.  Student-athletes understand the importance of the responsibility to give back to the surrounding community and are committed to helping others, demonstrating the Athletic Department’s core values: Honesty, Integrity, Mutual Respect, Effort, and Constant Improvement.  Each year, the students work with the Boys & Girls Club and tutor young students.  A major youth initiative undertaken by all teams, is participation in the annual Reading Week.  More than 50 student-athletes read to several elementary classrooms and answer questions about college, reaching out to hundreds of youth.  Throughout the academic year, many of our teams help at local soup kitchens.  The biggest effort is the annual “We ‘CAN’ Do It” Drive for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, which raised 1,166 pounds of non-perishable goods.  As Division I athletes, our students understand the value of health.  The swimming and diving team raised more than $17,000 for Swim Across America to benefit cancer research.  Many of our teams assist with R.I. Special Olympics events, refereeing and cheering on the participants.  Another major project athletes participate in is raising money for Children's Wishes of Rhode Island.  This year they donated $1,550 that they collected at one men's and one women's basketball game.

March 2014 Alternative Spring Break Service Initiatives:

  • More than 130 PC students spent their Spring Break working on behalf of Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge Program.  Among the sites students helped build homes were Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
  • Eleven PC students served at the Outreach 360 Health program in the Dominican Republic. The students, enrolled in the course, Community Development in the Americas, taught by Dr. Eric Hartman, adjunct assistant professor of global studies, worked with Outreach 360 and taught children in schools and orphanages in the Dominican Republic English and supported community health education.
  • Ten PC students along with Kaytee Stewart ’09, program coordinator for the Feinstein Institute for Public Service, participated in a “Crossing Borders” service immersion trip in Tijuana, Mexico.  Students worked with Esperanza International and their partner Fundación Esperanza de México to support local families in Tijuana to improve their quality of life and communities. Student’s also helped build structurally sound housing with the families.

Winter 2014 Break Service Initiatives:

  • As a part of Supporting Community Literacy in Nicaragua, 14 PC students went to El Manzano, Nicaragua, in Jaunary with Dr. Nicholas Longo ’96, associate professor of public and community service studies and chair of the Department of Global Studies, and Dr. Nuria Alonso García, associate professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Foreign Language Studies.  The students worked with Waves of Hope, a non-profit organization promoting education in that rural community.
  • Also in January, 19 students enrolled in Visualizing Peace and Justice, traveled to Quito, Ecuador, with Dr. Jeffrey D. Pugh, assistant professor of political science, and Eric Sung, associate professor of photography.  They used photography and art to promote social justice through the Center for Mediation, Peace and Resolution of Conflict.
  • PC's annual NOLA (New Orleans, La.) Immersion, sponsored by the Office of Campus Ministry, a faith-based service trip in response to the needs of post-Katrina New Orleans, took place in January.  Fourteen students and College chaplain, Rev. James Cuddy, O.P. ’98 participated this year.  The trip is a mainstay alternative break experience held for the pastsix years, which aids the local community while exposing students to the faith, food, and culture of the Gulf Coast.  NOLA Immersion is committed to the dignity of the human person, lived out by accompanying our neighbors in the journey toward justice. 
  • Six PC students from Vietnam and one from Thailand participated in the Providence Plunge in January, sponsored by Campus Ministry.  The students volunteered at a variety of sites: Jeanne Jugan Assisted Living Center, McAuley Village, Ronald McDonald House, and My Brother’s Keeper in Dartmouth, MA. 
  • Three PC students participated in the My Brother’s Keeper Urban Plunge in January.  My Brother’s Keeper is a nonprofit organization in Easton, MA that delivers food and furniture to families in need.

The PC community also supported numerous charitable organizations:

  • More than 1000 PC students, faculty, and staff members donated approximately $7,500 worth of toys, clothing items, bicycles, and money to the 13 local families, including 51 children, through the Adopt-A-Family holiday giving program sponsored annually by the College’s Office of Residence Life.
  • Senior Public and Community Service Studies majors started a new philanthropic partnership with Kiva, a non-profit microfinance organization. The students in the capstone course, along with the Feinstein Institute and the Public and Community Service Studies department, donated $200 to Kiva in the form of a small business loan for a women’s baking cooperative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The loan will recycle within 8 months and subsequent capstone classes will choose a new loan recipient within the Kiva network.
  • Nearly 900 members of the PC community raised $88,000 for the American Cancer Society at the 2014 PC Relay for Life.  The College has hosted the event for the last 10 years and has raised over $900,000 for the American Cancer Society.
  • Each year, at the end of the spring semester, the Office of Environmental Health and Safety and Residence Life hold a Move-Out Clothing & Food Drive.  They collect used clothing and non-perishable food items to be donated to charity.  Clothing is donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the food goes to the Rhode Island Food Bank.
  • The Department of Human Resources assisted the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, in collecting items to support families with sick children.  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.
  • The School of Continuing Education also sponsored an “April Showers” prize-a-day raffle which netted almost $2,000 to support scholarships for SCE students. 
  • The PC Student Athletic Advisory Council held their annual 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 4,520 hours of community service this year.
  • The Children’s Outreach group in Campus Ministry sponsored the “Giving Tree” and collected more than 300 toys and clothing items in December.  All of the goods were donated to Smith Hill Early Childhood Learning Center 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, Campus Ministry, Institutional Advancement, and the Office of Student Activities-Involvement-Leadership, collected personal care items during the 8th Annual April Showers Drive.  The donations filled nearly 20 grocery bags and benefited the guests at Mary House, the social service agency of St. Patrick’s Church.

Upcoming Service Trips:

  • This upcoming summer, PC students and staff will participate in Campus Ministry’s new International Immersions program. Eight students and staff from Campus Ministry and Athletics will travel to Haiti from May 26 – May 31.  The group will volunteer at the Louverature Cleary School operated by The Haitian Project. The school provides a tuition-free education for 350 economically underprivileged Haitian children.
  • From May 24 – May 31, thirteen students and staff from Campus Ministry will volunteer with Mustard Seed Communities in Kingston, Jamaica. Mustard Seed provides support for children with mental and physical disabilities.
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