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SMC named to service honor roll

Ashley Charnley | Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) at Saint Mary’s College was placed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the third year in a row by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Carrie Call, director of OCSE, is proud of the College’s accomplishments.

“I consider it a great honor that SMC made the roll and I think it speaks to the ‘heart of service’ among our students,” Call said.

The schools who receive the honor are chosen based on series of factors, including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses according to a press release from earlier this month.

“We salute Saint Mary’s College for making community service a campus priority, and thank the millions of college students who are helping to renew America through service to others,” Stephen Goldsmith, vice chair of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, said in the same press release.

OCSE began as the Spes Unica Volunteer Resource Office (SURV) until 2004 when the name was changed, Call said. A group of students originally started SURV in 1990 to have a place for students to find service opportunities on campus. Along with the new name, OCSE also expanded the programs and staff allotted to the previous office, Call said.

The programs OCSE provides focus on education and health care in order to reflect the mission of the College.

“Our service opportunities are varied and extensive. We try to mirror the commitments of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, so our primary positions are with education and health care and we try to serve those on the margins of society,” Call said.

The College Academy of Tutoring (CAT) and Rebuilding Together are only two of the service opportunities available, and both have high rates of student volunteers.

“In our College Academy of Tutoring for example, it’s not unusual to reach a 10 percent participation rate within a year – this is about 150-plus students,” Call said.

Currently, OCSE is working on starting a Habitat for Humanity club on campus, Call said. Also, they recently began a walk to raise awareness of and money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society called “Light the Night.”

Students who want to join in any of these activities, or one of the many others offered by OCSE can go to the office located in room 220 of the Student Center.

Call is pleased with the recognition the College has already received, and wants to continue improving the programs and services provided.

“This recognition affirms the spirit of service that is prevalent throughout the College. In the past four years, community service opportunities have flourished here with the advent of additional and enhanced programming,” Call said. “Receiving the news about the award always thrills me because it reminds me of how far we’ve come. Yet, I am also reminded of how much more needs to be done to help a hurting world.”