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Alumni Volunteers Serve Neighbors in FUSION Outreach

Some took disadvantaged schoolchildren to the zoo. Others rejuvenated a playground. Another contingent rolled up their sleeves to bring smiles to Dominican nuns.

Whatever their role, Providence College alumni had a singular purpose in volunteering at one of several FUSION projects sponsored by regional alumni clubs within the National Alumni Association (NAA) this spring: to make a difference in local communities.

Alumni — and, in some cases, family and friends — from five regional clubs as far south as Atlanta, Ga., participated in FUSION service projects during April, with two more clubs planning similar volunteer efforts this spring.

FUSION, or Friars United for Service in Our Neighborhood, was developed in 2007 by the College’s Providence President’s Council. That year, the College entered into a 10-year agreement with the City of Providence to revitalize the physical condition of historic landmarks and community parks on an annual basis.

A key element of the concept was to facilitate collaboration among President’s Council members, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners, including city employees, neighborhood groups, and citizens.

Over the past several years, FUSION’s spirit has spread among alumni to the point where PC’s regional alumni clubs are incorporating it into their yearly programming. This spring, two of the bigger FUSION projects took place in New York City and Providence.

A group of 20 from the PC Club of New York chaperoned 44 fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders from Our Lady of Refuge and Our Lady of Mount Carmel schools on a trip to the Bronx Zoo. Tickets for the alumni and students were donated by  the zoo’s chief veterinarian, Paul P. Calle, V.M.D.,DIPL.ACZM ’12P, director of zoological health for the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The zoo visit, which was a first for many of the students, was arranged through the Junior Committee of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund (ICSF). The fund supports inner-city elementary and secondary education students.

During the zoo visit, the children wore “Go Friars” headbands and were given PC Silly Bandz and other Friar memorabilia. This was the second consecutive year the New York club teamed up with the ICSF for a FUSION project.

“We could not be more excited about the growing relationship,” said Susan George, ICSF executive director. "We are grateful so many PC alums were able to come together and provide this opportunity for our inner-city kids. Commitment to Catholic education is at the core of our mission, and we look forward to a long partnership with alumni of PC."

Another dozen alumni helped clean up a park in Harlem, working through New York Cares, a volunteer service organization. In addition to general park maintenance, the group painted benches and a fence.

In Providence, members of the Mal Brown Club, the Greater Providence Chapter of the NAA, were part of a group of 90 from the College, the Elmhurst Clean & Green neighborhood group, and the Parks Department that refurbished Fargnoli Park, about a half-mile from campus. Volunteers spread 8 tons of mulch around play sets and other areas, painted playground structures, built a bench, and relocated boulders.

Among those to stop by and greet the workers were College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80 and Mayor Angel Taveras, along with City Council members.

Three other regional alumni clubs also undertook FUSION work:

• Volunteers in Atlanta labored at an inner-city farming area near the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and the Ebenezer Baptist Church. They prepared beds for planting, cleaned up existing beds, and weeded. The day of service was coordinated through Truly Living Well, a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging the community in developing local food systems through education and food production.

• In Dighton, Mass., members of the South Coast Club worked at a retreat center run by Dominican Sisters. The alumni washed windows, vacuumed, and changed light bulbs, then enjoyed a luncheon hosted by the nuns.

• Alumni from the New London/Washington County Club collected 12 bags of refuse from a quarter-mile stretch of River Road in Pawcatuck, Conn.

Upcoming FUSION projects

Two other regional alumni clubs also will be participating in FUSION outreach. The Hartford Area Club will partner with Rebuilding Together Hartford, Inc. on home renovations and repairs on Saturday, April 27.

The PC Club of Long Island’s FUSION day will be on Saturday, June 8, when members will gather at Camp Paquatuck in Center Moriches. Work at the camp for physically and mentally handicapped children will include planting flower beds, power washing buildings and decks, and painting.

To register for one of the above projects, visit the PC alumni events web page

—Charles C. Joyce  
 
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