Tag Archive for community service

Wesleyan Film Outreach Volunteers Teach Local Youth about Filmmaking

Luisa Bryan ’21 helps fourth-grader Justin and third-grader Franchesca film a short movie as part of a class taught by Wesleyan Film Outreach.

Sarah Lucente '21 works with MacDonough students Isaiah and Violet on how to operate the videocamera.

Sarah Lucente ’21 watches Isaiah direct a scene.

“Press this button and say, ‘Action!'” Sarah Lucente ’21 explains to third-grader Isaiah as he intently peers into a videocamera’s viewfinder. “Think about this scene. Think about doing a closeup.”

Isaiah is one of 10 area youth learning about filmmaking though Wesleyan Film Outreach, a program that provides school-aged children with the skills to write, film, direct and edit themselves.

The class is taught by Wesleyan students as part of the YMCA’s Kids’ Korner, an after-school enrichment program held at MacDonough Elementary School in Middletown.

Stephen Collins ’96, associate professor of film studies, teaches the community-engagement class for two hours every Tuesday with Film Outreach volunteers Lucente, Caris Yeoman ’21, Luisa Bryan ’21 and Nick Catrambone ’21.

Collins modeled the class after a pilot he ran in 2016 at MacDonough with his youngest daughter’s fourth grade class.

“Having two kids in the public school system, I see how starved they are for arts education,” Collins says.

Wesleyan-Middletown Collaborations Strengthen Community

The Wesleyan Upward Bound Math-Science Program is designed to help low-income and first-generation college students recognize and develop their potential, to excel in math and science, and pursue post secondary degrees. The Upward Bound Program is benefiting from new federal funding and is one of many Wesleyan-Middletown collaborations. Pictured are Upward Bound students in 2016. 

A new $1.3 million grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education over five years to Wesleyan’s Upward Bound Math-Science program has brought federal funding for an important collaborative initiative in Middletown that will help provide low-income, historically underrepresented high school students with pathways to success in science and math.

The grant is the latest in a growing list of initiatives that are bringing Middletown and Wesleyan together in projects large and small.

“We don’t often pause to appreciate the full scope of collaborations between Wesleyan and Middletown,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth, “but when we do, the many ways they are contributing to the growth of our strong local community become so apparent. We couldn’t ask for better partners than we have here in Middletown.”

Wesleyan Refugee Project Hosts Panel, Exhibit on Refugee Resettlement

refugeeexhibit1

The Wesleyan Refugee Project is hosting an exhibit, “Stronger Shines the Light Inside” at the Center for the Arts Green. SSTLI traces processes of refugee resettlement though a series of photographs and interviews with the refugee community in Boise, Idaho.

On April 21, the Wesleyan Refugee Project (WRP) hosted a speaker panel in Memorial Chapel about refugee resettlement. WRP is a student-led group dedicated to volunteering, advocating, fundraising, and raising awareness of current refugee crises. The team works with a number of international and local nonprofit organizations, assisting in areas such as tutoring, legal aid, and refugee resettlement.

Angie Smith, a photographer based in Los Angeles, Calif. and the founder of Stronger Shines the Light Inside (SSTLI), delivered the keynote address. SSTLI traces processes of refugee resettlement though a series of photographs and interviews with the refugee community in Boise, Idaho. Smith spoke about the inception, development and execution of SSTLI, refugee resettlement in the U.S., using photography to tell impactful stories, and applying skills from a liberal arts college in the real world to create new initiatives promoting social justice and change. During her presentation she shared a series of photographs from the project that have been featured in numerous publications online and in print including National Geographic, WIRED, The New Republic, and The New York Times Magazine. She also read excerpts from interviews that accompanied the photographs.

In addition, brothers Maher Mahmood and Mahmood Mahmood spoke about their experiences with resettlement in Connecticut. Both described their journey from Iraq to Connecticut

QuestBridge/First Class Volunteers Read to Green Street TLC Students

stu_questbridge_2017-0424140540

From left, Yuhsuan Liu ’20, Aysha Khan ’19, Jada Jenkins ’20 and Mya Valentin ’19 speak to Green Street Teaching and Learning students about being the first in their family to attend college.

Four Wesleyan students participated in a literacy program March 24 at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. The students, who are members of Wesleyan’s QuestBridge/First Class organization, read social justice-themed books to the Green Street students and spoke about being a first-generation college student. QuestBridge/First Class provides support to low-income and/or first-generation students on campus.

The student volunteers included Yuhsuan Liu ’20, Aysha Khan ’19, Jada Jenkins ’20, and Mya Valentin ’19. The literacy program was organized by Belen Rodriguez ’19 and Emma Llano ’19.

“We thought this would be a great way to interact with younger students in Middletown who may also be low-income,” Rodriguez said. “In general, increasing childhood literacy is an important goal to have and we hope to hold more events like this in the future.”

The students read and discussed

New Civic Action Plan Aims to Create a Civically-Engaged Campus Community

Wesleyan students frequently volunteer at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center.

Wesleyan students frequently volunteer at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center.

This spring, Wesleyan joined Campus Compact, a coalition of more than 1,000 colleges and universities nationwide, to advance the public purpose of Wesleyan by deepening its ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility.

Ruth Johnson, assistant professor of biology, volunteered to teach a Girls in Science Camp, hosted by Wesleyan's Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. Johnson led the campers on a bug hunt through Wesleyan’s West College Courtyard garden.

Ruth Johnson, assistant professor of biology, volunteered to teach a Girls in Science Camp, hosted by Wesleyan’s Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. Johnson led the campers on a bug hunt through Wesleyan’s West College Courtyard garden.

In March, President Michael Roth signed onto to Campus Compact’s Civic Action Plan. Cathy Lechowicz, director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, and other members of the Civic Action Plan steering committee, are leading conversations on campus and in the community to create an actionable plan to realize Wesleyan’s goals. Lechowicz publishes posts about the process on Wesleyan’s ENGAGE blog.

“We want to hear what it means to be civically engaged,” Lechowicz said. “How do we do it as an institution and how can we better support or encourage students, staff and faculty to contribute to the greater good? What are the barriers and challenges? Through casual conversations, we seek input on better ways to share information about civic engagement, policies or practices that we may adopt to help encourage or acknowledge contributions, and to learn what may already be happening around campus.”

After seeking input, the steering committee will draft a plan this summer, and put plans into action next fall. The committee welcomes the campus community to submit ideas and feedback through this online form.
Anyone seeking volunteer opportunities can contact Wesleyan’s Office for Community Service.

Wesleyan’s Civic Action Pledge reads as follows:

To advance the public purposes of higher education, we affirm the following statements, which characterize our current commitments and name the ideals toward which we will work with renewed dedication, focus, and vigor.

We empower our students, faculty, staff, and community partners to co-create mutually respectful partnerships in pursuit of a just, equitable, and sustainable future for communities beyond the campus—nearby and around the world.

We prepare our students for lives of engaged citizenship, with the motivation and capacity to deliberate, act, and lead in pursuit of the public good.

We embrace our responsibilities as place based institutions, contributing to the health and strength of our communities—economically, socially, environmentally, educationally, and politically.

We harness the capacity of our institutions—through research, teaching, partnerships, and institutional practice—to challenge the prevailing social and economic inequalities that threaten our democratic future.

We foster an environment that consistently affirms the centrality of the public purposes of higher education by setting high expectations for members.

Students Learn about Global Poverty at Hunger Banquet Fundraiser

On April 12, the Hunger and Homelessness student group in the Office of Community Service raised more than $500 at the Wesleyan Hunger Banquet, an interactive simulation of global poverty rates. The funds will be donated to the Amazing Grace Food Pantry in Middletown.

More than 35 Wesleyan students and Class of 2021 admitted students and their parents, visiting for WesFest, attended the event. Participants were placed into an income bracket at random and then provided a seating arrangement and meal indicative of that income level.

Anthony Hatch, assistant professor of science in society, assistant professor of African American studies, assistant professor of sociology, served as master of ceremonies.

“By attending this semester’s hunger banquet, you have deepened your awareness of world hunger and poverty. The test is how you put this knowledge to use,” he said. “Together, we can change the world. Rise up. Join the fight.”

The high-income meal was donated by Haveli Indian Restaurant, while two of the coordinators, Fred Ayres ’17 and Abby Matlack ’20, provided the middle- and low-income meals. Ron Krom of St. Vincent de Paul also spoke at the event.

“The Wesleyan Hunger Banquet is a simulation of the magnitude of global poverty and hunger that allows attendees to visualize and grasp its severity,” said Ayres, who leads the Hunger and Homelessness group. “Through sharing a meal with others, attendees learned about the misperceptions and solutions that surround income inequality.”

eve_hungerbanquet_2017-0412173217

Students Raise Funds for Childhood Cancer Research at Dance Marathon

westhon7On April 8, more than 250 students helped raise funds for children and families impacted by childhood cancer.

westhon6WesThon, a student-run philanthropy, provides emotional and financial support to affected families, and spreads awareness and ensures funding for critical research — all in pursuit of a cure. WesThon’s yearlong efforts culminate with a six-hour, no-sitting dance marathon at Psi Upsilon.

At this years event, WesThon participants raised more than $20,000 for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, doubling what they raised last year.

“Since this is only the second year of the event we are beyond thrilled with the result,” said Dana Mitchell ’18, who oversaw recruitment for the event.

(Photos by Christopher Wilkos)

Wesleyan Hunger Banquet to Be Held April 12

Fred Ayers helps a patron gather a ration of food at Amazing Grace. The pantry serves an estimated 3,000 individuals, or 1, 075 households each month.

Fred Ayers ’17 helps a patron gather a ration of food at Amazing Grace. The pantry serves an estimated 3,000 individuals, or 1, 075 households each month. Ayres also leads the Hunger and Homelessness group at Wesleyan.

On April 12, the Hunger and Homelessness student group in the Office of Community Service will once again host the Wesleyan Hunger Banquet, an interactive simulation of global poverty rates. Attendees are placed into an income bracket at random and then provided a seating arrangement and meal indicative of that income level.

The event will take place in Woodhead Lounge from 5-7 p.m. Anthony Hatch, assistant professor of sociology, assistant professor of science in society, assistant professor of African American studies, will serve as MC, and Ron Krom of St. Vincent de Paul will speak at the event.

“The Wesleyan Hunger Banquet is a simulation of the magnitude of global poverty and hunger that allows attendees to visualize and grasp its severity,” said Fred Ayres ’17, who leads the Hunger and Homelessness group and is involved in organizing the banquet. “Through sharing a meal with others, attendees will also learn about the misperceptions and solutions that surround income inequality. Students involved in current initiatives to ameliorate hunger and homelessness will share how others can get involved.”

Tickets will be sold in Usdan University Center April 7-12, and can also be purchased at the door. No RSVP is required. Proceeds will be donated to Amazing Grace Food Pantry, and the group aims to raise over $500.

Local Girls Celebrate Women in Sports Day with Wesleyan Student-Athletes

ath_women_2017-0128142346

On Jan. 28, 35 local girls in grades K-6 celebrated National Girls & Women in Sports Day at Wesleyan.

Several Wesleyan student-athletes and eight coaches led sports clinics in field hockey, lacrosse, crew, soccer, softball and volleyball. All participants were treated to a pizza party and discussion with Wesleyan student-athletes and were offered free admission to Wesleyan’s women’s athletic contests. Throughout the day, the female athletes celebrated the courage, confidence, and character gained as they participated in sports.

Jennifer Lane, head coach of softball, coordinated this year’s event with help from Olivia Berry, assistant softball coach and Jeff McDonald, assistant football coach.

“The young girls and the Wesleyan student-athletes enjoyed themselves immensely,” Lane said. “It was a great opportunity for the Wesleyan student-athletes to give back to the community and it was a chance for the youth participants to experience sports they had and had not played before. The young girls loved working with the Wesleyan student-athletes and their parents couldn’t say enough wonderful things about the day.”

This year marks the 31st anniversary of National Girls & Women in Sports Day, which was created by the Women’s Sports Foundation. The event recognizes the extraordinary achievements of those who have helped to effect change and create opportunities for women and girls in sports.

Men’s Hockey Drafts 9-Year-Old Connor from Team IMPACT

ath_ich_2017-0120173900

On Jan. 20, the Wesleyan men’s ice hockey team welcomed its newest member to the team, 9-year-old Connor Albert from Team IMPACT.

In April 2016, Connor was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a type of cancer that starts in the bones. The issues, however, started in January 2016 when a small limp continued to get worse. One day, while playing basketball, Connor fell on his hip and the pain increased drastically. Doctors found a tumor in his hip, which they thought was benign, until four different biopsies concluded it was bone cancer. He underwent hip replacement surgery in the fall and is still recovering from it, and is doing very well. He uses a walker or crutches to get around, and has chemo treatments that are week long stays in the hospital. He is also doing regular physical therapy.

Partnering with Team IMPACT, whose focus is to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team, the Cardinals made Connor apart of theirs this month.

Hockey players visit Connor in the hospital.

Hockey players visited Connor in the hospital.

Prior to his arrival on campus, several members of the team visited Connor in the hospital. Among those were the leadership group consisting of Rob Harbison ’17, Marty Rubin ’18, Luke Babcock ’19, George Blinick ’19 Vince Lima ’19 and Matt Horton ’20.

“It means so much to our team to be able to brighten the life of a real warrior like Connor,” Rubin said. “He is constantly teaching us how to remain positive in the face of adversity, which as a NESCAC team recently finding our own success, that lesson has been an overwhelmingly helpful reminder.

Connor also reminds us to remain united because we play for something larger than ourselves. I would argue he is teaching us more than we are even teaching him, that’s how great of a kid he is.”

Wesleyan Students, Staff Participate in Middletown Community Thanksgiving Project

On Nov. 21, Wesleyan students and staff helped stuff 1,000 boxes with everything families will need for a Thanksgiving dinner celebration.

On Nov. 21, Wesleyan students and staff helped stuff 1,000 boxes with everything families will need for a Thanksgiving dinner celebration.

This fall, Wesleyan students and staff took part in the Middletown Community Thanksgiving Project, an annual collaborative effort to provide Thanksgiving meals for families in need. Wesleyan was one of 70 community partners for the project, led by Fellowship Church in Middletown. The university’s involvement in the project was coordinated by Cathy Lechowicz and Diana Martinez, director and assistant director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships.

MCTP 3For this year’s project, the Wesleyan community donated stuffing, gravy, pies and other foodstuffs; students and staff from the Allbritton Center helped register families at Amazing Grace Food Pantry from Oct. 31 to Nov. 18; students and staff, including the men’s crew and women’s lacrosse teams, helped with packing almost 1,000 boxes of food at Fellowship Church on Nov. 21; and staff from Wesleyan’s Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development helped distribute the food to Middletown residents in need on Nov. 22. The women’s lacrosse team also collected more than $600 to contribute to the project.

Students Help Local Residents Prepare for a Thanksgiving Day Feast

Fred Ayres '17 helps stock shelves at Amazing Grace Food Pantry in Middletown on Oct. 4. Ayers is one of several Wesleyan students and alumni who are volunteering at the food pantry this month.

Fred Ayres ’17 helps stock shelves at Amazing Grace Food Pantry in Middletown on Nov. 4. Ayers is one of several Wesleyan students and alumni who are volunteering at the food pantry this month in preparation for Thanksgiving. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

On Nov. 24, dozens of low-income Middletown families will enjoy a Thanksgiving Day feast courtesy of a local food pantry and the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships at Wesleyan.

Fred Ayres helps a patron gather a ration of food at Amazing Grace. The pantry serves an estimated 3,000 individuals, or 1, 075 households each month.

Fred Ayres, at right, helps a patron gather a ration of food at Amazing Grace. The pantry serves an estimated 3,000 individuals, or 1,075 households each month.

From Oct. 31 to Nov. 18, four Wesleyan students, three alumni and JCCP staff are hosting Middletown Community Thanksgiving Basket Project registration at Amazing Grace Food Pantry in Middletown. Families who sign up will receive a baked turkey and traditional fixings on Thanksgiving Day.

In addition, the JCCP is hosting a Stuffing and Gravy Drive (jars or cans) from now until Nov. 18. Boxes are placed in North College, Usdan, Olin, Freeman Athletic Center and Allbritton. Wesleyan volunteers also will assist Middletown Police Department with a turkey drive on Nov. 18 and 19. They also hosted fill-a-bus events at local supermarkets on Nov. 5 and 6.

Volunteer Fred Ayres ’17, a neuroscience and economics double major, has served as an intern for the St. Vincent de Paul Middletown group, which includes Amazing Grace, throughout the fall semester. In addition to directly volunteering with families who shop at the pantry, he has also learned how Amazing Grace stocks their shelves, how they raise funds and collect donations,