As the 2018-2019 academic year has come to an end, the Center for Community Engagement would like to look back and highlight events and projects that made our year so successful. To begin, we kicked off the year with our September 11th National Day of Service on Saturday, September 8th, 2018. In total, we had 248 volunteers who visited and assisted 12 off-campus service sites and four on-campus service sites. Some of the sites included Alliance for a Better Community, Morgan’s Farm, Father English, Community Food Bank of NJ, Medshare, Care of the Parks and Montclair History Center. Our second National Day of Service was held on Saturday, February 9th, 2019 in honor of Martin Luther King. In total, we had 120 volunteers who visited and assisted 11 off-campus service sites and three on-campus service sites. Some of the sites included Canterbury Village, Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey, Covenant House, Habitat for Humanity and Jersey Cares. In addition, on-campus, our volunteers made 300 sandwiches that were donated to Toni’s Kitchen, and they created 500 hospital kits that were donated and delivered to the Children’s Specialized Hospital. Overall, these two National Days of Service were very successful and brought the community together to work and serve as one.
Throughout the year, we have two very important programs that participate in service and work hard to get things done for the community. These programs are Bonner and AmeriCorps. The Bonner Leader Program consists of 36 Bonners who are placed at eight different service sites for the year. These service sites include the Red Hawk Food Pantry, Montclair Community Farm, Orange Community Schools, Increasing Access to College and Side Door. Not only do they work at their service sites, but they also travel to help others in different parts of the country and some Bonners even go out of the country to volunteer. In total, the Bonners have completed 10,800 hours of service and have repaired 10 homes this year.
The AmeriCorps Program consists of 20 members who are either placed at one of the five schools in the Orange Community, on-campus, or at the New Jersey School of Conservation. The members placed in Orange are trained to either become a Family Liaison or a Reading Coach. These jobs are very important as their goal is to better educate students and their families in reading, writing and health, and to stress how important it is for families to be involved in their children’s education. The positions on campus include the Community-Engaged Learning Coordinator and the Volunteer Coordinator. These positions work together to make each National Day of Service successful. Individually, the Volunteer Coordinator creates other days of service and volunteer opportunities for the community throughout the year. The Community-Engaged Learning Coordinator works with partners to provide service opportunities for academic courses at Montclair State University. This year, in total, there were 190 Service-Learning students who completed 3,281 hours of service. The Community-Engaged Learning Coordinator provided 16 service sites for students to choose from including Clara Maass Medical Center, the YMCA, Rocking Horse Rehab, Job Haines, Side Door, Orange Community Schools, MEND, the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Canterbury Village. In addition, the AmeriCorps program also partners with the New Jersey School of Conservation. These members teach and coordinate projects and learning experiences for K-12 students, community members and college students. They focus on areas in natural sciences, humanities and social sciences. In addition, they work and care for the lake, animals, forest and parks that surround the school. Overall this year, our AmeriCorps team has served and prepared several meals at the Community Food Bank, prepared two homes at Habitat for Humanity, have taught over 1,000 students at the New Jersey School of Conservation, created and implemented two National Days of Service, and have brought unity to the Orange Community supporting 500 students. As you can see, all roles are very important and unique, and as a whole, this group supports one another in their roles and work together on days of service and throughout training.
The Orange Community Schools are one of our partners that works with us constantly to learn ways to help families and students in need and to better educate them. This year, the schools have provided two pediatric health clinics which give primary care, mental health services, and health screenings to children and parents. In addition, two of the Orange Schools created an event called “Breakfast with Santa” which gave the opportunity for families to come together to have breakfast, participate in games and crafts, and take pictures with Santa. About 500 parents and students attended this event. Furthermore, with a generous donation from ILA of $4,000, each student who attended received a present. More so, this year, the PTO was made up of two co-presidents, a secretary and a treasurer; when in past years, only the role as president was filled. They created by-laws, new fundraising and have streamlined meetings. With this, more parents have been getting involved and getting things done for the schools and their students. Lastly, a new program called the Success Mentoring Program was implemented this year. This program is a Children’s Aid model, designed to support chronic absenteeism initiatives. This system of support pairs a mentor with a student on the chronic list. Mentors are expected to do daily check-ins and weekly check-ins. As a result of this program, by May, zero students were classified as severely chronically absent, and nine students are no longer considered chronic. This shows that attendance is becoming less of an issue and the students and families are recognizing the support that these schools provide.
It has been a great year and our partners, professors, members and ideas continue to grow and improve, which provides more support for more successful years to come.