Start School Serving

Caleb Nelson

The Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement (OSLCE) has two events planned back to back on September 10th and 11th, closing out the second week of UMB classes with what Charmin Delara, who works for OSLCE, hopes will create an atmosphere of service for UMB students this fall.

“We plan to offer at least one monthly service event this year,” Delara explained. “In September it’s the National Day of Service, and the day before that [September 10th] we are going to work with Cradles to Crayons. We have ten available slots for that service day.”

There are twenty slots available to participate in UMB’s plan for the National Day of Service on September 11th. This event, the brainchild of the Obama administration, promotes community service as a commemoration for those who died on September 11th. Many of the volunteer opportunities for that day offered on are already filled.

The website explains, “Our mission is to honor the victims of 9/11 and those who rose to service in response to the attacks by encouraging all Americans and others throughout the world to pledge to voluntarily perform at least one good deed, or another service activity on 9/11 each year.”

This year volunteers from UMB will work with the Red Cross at a food pantry on Mass Ave, bagging and sorting groceries. These will be passed out to low-income families across Boston, and also to people in shelters.

“The student body [at UMB] is starting to get engaged,” said Sherrod Williams, the Director of OSLCE. “But it’s really about getting out there for us. We want to get students involved in this community, and it’s a natural match since so many of the students here are from the area as well.”

These service opportunities offer more than, as Williams said, “kumbaya moments”, when everyone holds hands and sings.” By serving their communities, students work with diverse groups of people, improve their professionalism, and their resumes. Especially for students who take on leadership rolls at the organizations that OSCLE partners with.

Beside isolated community service events, which will happen throughout the year, the OSLCE is committed to getting students involved in longer lasting service opportunities. Over the summer Williams has been working to develop relationships with local non-profit organizations like Earthworks, Peacegames, Cradles to Crayons and the Boston Living Center.

“It’s about having a variety of ways for students to get involved,” Williams said. “Some people have jobs and other commitments so they can’t commit to a tutoring program or something like that, but they might be interested in volunteering periodically . . . We also want to offer some variety. Of course we offer tutoring [for high school and middle school students in Dorchester], and we’re going to keep with Jumpstart, because it’s a great program, but we’re trying to become more knowledgeable about different organizations around the community.”

The goal is to offer continuous community service opportunities, where students can mingle and meet. There are several alternative spring break programs being developed right now. For these, students raise funds to serve a community somewhere outside of Boston. Last year students went to both New Orleans and Haiti.

“Not every project is going to be fun and games. [Students are] going to be working with organizations that expect professionalism,” said Williams. “You do learn a lot . . . but those kumbaya moments can make it worth it too don’t you think?”

To get involved in any of these community service initiatives visit the Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement on the third floor of the Campus Center and talk to Charmin Delara whose official title is MACC AmeriCorps* VISTA Community Outreach Coordinator.