Along with other offices housed in the soon-to-be vacated Cushing Student Center, the Meelia Center For Community Engagement has packed up and relocated to make way for the pending renovation and expansion of the Student Center complex. Their new location, across the street from campus at 72 Saint Anselm Drive, brings a renewed perspective and presence for the staff and students of the Center.
Director Dan Forbes comments, “As sad as it was leaving our Cushing Center Meelia home after 27 years, we see the move to the little gray house across from the new College entrance as providing new opportunities for Meelia staff and engaged students. Our student staff is learning new outreach skills, and we envision inviting engaged students to our new house for reflection and celebration activities.”
OPEN HOUSE: The Meelia Center will be hosting a house warming on Wednesday, September 28 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. to greet current volunteers, and invite new volunteers to get involved at any of the 60 nonprofit agencies that the Center partners with.
There is no constant quite like change and the students and staff of Meelia are ready to meet the challenge of the new location, and make their outreach stronger and better. Katherine Carey ’18, a member of the student leadership team reflects on the fall semester by noting that “it’s been a pretty chaotic few weeks in the office, trying to get all of our service learners and volunteers set up while also coordinating the big move. However, Dan, (Assistant Director) Nickie, and (Administrative Assistant) Jen have done an amazing job in making sure that nothing got lost or looked over during the move. Physical Plant has also been a major help in making sure we are taken care of, and we are so appreciative of the work they have done, as it has made our lives and jobs at the Meelia Center a lot easier. Without their assistance, the move would have been far more overwhelming and difficult.”
The first FAPNO (Foster and Adoptive Parents Night Out) of the year will be held Thursday, September 28th in the Carr Center. This event typically takes place on the last Thursday evening of every month; foster and adoptive parents are able to drop their children off. While the children are in a safe environment, parents have the time to go out and complete errands, or simply enjoy a little time to themselves.
Coordinated by Jenna Baker ’18, the event features dozens of student-volunteers from all over campus who take time to care for the children (infants to pre-teen), and entertain them while their parents are out. Volunteers play games with the kids, do crafts with them, talk to them and help them with dinner, keeping them busy so they are “nice and tired when their parents come to pick them up” says Baker. Every FAPNO night features a theme, from sports to movies, seasons to holidays, so that all the games, crafts, and movies are tied together and each month is a different and exciting experience for the kids.
Baker further comments; “What is truly amazing about this program is that it is almost completely run by volunteers. It warms my heart that college students are willing to take time out of their hectic schedules to come get to know kids that benefit so greatly from having positive role models in their lives. I wish I could express how thankful I am for all of the volunteers each month.”
The Meelia Center is hosting their annual Wiffleball Tournament on Sunday, October 16th, benefitting a local family. Every year, the tournament raises money for a local cause or a family in need. This year, the family that will be benefitting from the fundraising of the event lost their father in April, and now, as a family of ten, must provide for each other. Groups of students can register to play in the tournament online. There will be a competitive and noncompetitive bracket and food will be available!
Moving into November, the Meelia Center is also coordinating a myriad of events surrounding and supporting Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. This week is nationally recognized the week before Thanksgiving, this year falling on November 12-20. In an effort to increase awareness and call students to action, the Meelia Center will be hosting a Sleep-Out on the Quad, offering volunteer opportunities with Families in Transition, and offering numerous educational presentations. All events are designed to create a lasting impression for students of the realities for those who struggle as a result of hunger and homelessness.
All are encouraged to stop by the Meelia Center's new home at 72 Saint Anselm Drive to learn more about volunteer opportunities throughout the year.