2017 in Review: Anselmians Give Back

A student paints during the New Student Orientation day of service

To be an Anselmian is to give back as a way of life. In 2017, The Princeton Review ranked Saint Anselm College fifth in the nation for students most engaged in community service. During the 2016-17 academic year, students contributed at least 51,907 hours of service. Below, we have featured some of the causes, groups, and individuals who help to represent the ways in which Anselmians have given back to our local and global community.

Students Serve at Home and Abroad over Winter and Spring Breaks

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For 27 years, the Office of Campus Ministry has provided students opportunities to forgo their traditionally academic breaks and instead serve the world through the Service and Solidarity program.

This year, over 200 Anselmians served those in need in the United States and the Dominican Republic during winter and spring breaks.

144 students celebrated the new year by traveling to nine different regions of the United States, and sending one group of students abroad to the Dominican Republic. Domestically, students traveled to Maryland, Louisiana, Virginia, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Arizona, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.

Students helped in various capacities, some helped with the refugee resettlement process here in Manchester, while others served meals at soup kitchens, renovated homes, worked at schools, and helped elderly and underprivileged children.

In February, 95 students traveled to seven different host agencies in Mississippi, Kentucky, New York, Maine, Maryland, and South Dakota. These groups focused on a myriad of ways to better the community from building and renovating houses, teaching in schools, providing disaster relief, and serving and delivering food.

College Raises Over $100,000 during Relay for Life

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Once again, Saint Anselm College had a record-breaking evening at the tenth-annual Sr. Pauline Relay for Life event on April 7. At least 1,000 students, faculty, and staff on 66 teams gathered in the Carr Center to honor survivors and those who have lost their battle with cancer, while raising over $100,000 for cancer research and services.

Relay For Life 2017

The college’s Relay for Life is named in honor of Sr. Pauline Lucier, C.S.C., a former Campus Minister at the college who passed away from cancer in May 2009. In 2008, Sr. Pauline was a champion of this event, serving as the Grand Marshal. This year, Director of the Dana Center, Robert “Bob” Shea served as the 2017 Grand Marshal and keynote speaker.

Prior to a blessing, offered by Father Mathias Durette, O.S.B., the friends and family of the event's namesake, Sr. Pauline Lucier, C.S.C., a longtime campus minister, were also recognized. Kerrin Norton '19, who garnered the top fundraising total of $2,520 among all participants also spoke to the crowd later in the evening.

Events every hour throughout the night included musical chairs, tug-of-war, and limbo, as well as the popular hair donation through Pantene's “Beautiful Lengths” program to create wigs for women battling cancer.

Students Deliver Food, Furniture, and Clothing to Families in Need

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More than 80 local families, and several charitable organizations benefited from the generosity of Anselmians who donated couches, pasta, sweatshirts, along with cleaning supplies, and other dorm room and apartment necessities as part of the 11 annual the Food, Clothing and Furniture (FCF) Drive.

Food, Clothing & Furniture Drive 2017

Collecting more than 60 couches, small refrigerators, boxes of food, and bags of clothing. A sorting station was created in the Carr Center, where volunteers organized and labeled thousands of items for delivery. Over the course of the weekend, dozens of stops were made in Manchester and surrounding communities, furnishing homes and filling cupboards.

Student Walk 130 Miles for Charity

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For the nineteenth year, Saint Anselm forty-five students walked 130 miles to campus from Lewiston, Maine—rain or shine—to raise money for nine deserving charities in Maine and New Hampshire as part of the annual Road for Hope (RFH).

Road For Hope 2017

This year, the students raised over $25,000, walking a route first imagined by Fr. Seamus Griesbach, a Maine native and Saint Anselm College alumnus, who mapped and walked the road that has evolved into the current-day program. Along their journey, participants were visited by representatives from the charities for which they raise money, learning about the charities’ needs, long term and short term.

College Community Donates Record Number of Thanksgiving Baskets

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In its 15th year, the 2017 Thanksgiving Basket Blessing provided a record total of 145 baskets, according to Joycelin Raho, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry at Saint Anselm College. Since 2004, the Saint Anselm College community has donated over 1,000 full Thanksgiving dinners to the needy, with turkey, stuffing, sides, desserts and much more.

Baskets are distributed by New Hampshire Catholic Charities and the Merrimack Valley Assistance Program (MVAP). Resettled families from Africa, North, South and Latin America, and Puerto Rico are recipients of Thanksgiving baskets via the Merrimack Valley Assistance Program (MVAP).

A Sense of Renewal and Purpose: Updates from the Meelia Center

Students with Dan Forbes

Saint Anselm College was recently ranked fifth in the nation for engagement in community service, according to the Princeton Review. Those hours of service are possible due to the work of The Meelia Center for Community Engagement. With the start of a new school year comes a renewed sense of purpose and drive for those who work in the center, there are new sites to be managed, and eager new students ready to start serving their community.

Students with Dan ForbesTo get involved students can volunteer at a specific site within the community or they can participate in the service events that happen on the Saint Anselm campus. Both service events and program sites are coordinated by students who work in the Meelia Center.

New Sites

There are several new and exciting sites available to students at the Meelia Center this year, these sites appeal to a variety of interests, whether working with immigrant and refugee populations, tutoring students, encouraging girls to break gender stereotypes, and much more.

Girls at Work is in their first partnership with the Meelia Center this year. The goal of the organization, which provides mentorship to girls aged 5-12 on craftsmanship and the use of power tools, is to instill confidence so they have the courage to defy gender norms as they grow older. This year, a group of freshmen attended the site as part of their orientation day of service, “it was wonderful because you had these young girls teaching college freshmen how to build kits and properly use the tools,” explained Christine Drew '17, Program Coordinator for Community Partnerships at the Meelia Center.

Liberty House is another new partnership forged for this academic year. Liberty House helps veterans who are transitioning out of homelessness. Volunteers can assist in the food pantry and clothing program, and interact with the veterans. “We are working on trying to get these individuals onto our campus soon, we are looking to see if we can get them here for a sports game,” Drew explained, noting that it is important to engage at these sites in a variety of ways.

The Meelia Center has been partnering with individuals from Dream Catchers for the school’s annual Valentine’s Day Dance, as they are one of the groups that works directly with individuals of different intellectual, social and learning abilities. New this year, is the ability for students to create and execute programming for Dream Catchers directly. The types of programming that students will be designing are community based and include activities such as cooking nights or bowling activities. This is geared towards Dream Catchers’ mission of highlighting the need for engaging social experiences for individuals of all ages and abilities.

Access Academy Expands

Access Academy is a free after-school educational program for Manchester high school students, specifically geared towards the immigrant and refugee populations, which occurs on Mondays and Tuesdays where they can take courses to earn credit at their high school.  The courses have several models, including student led, student led with faculty support, faculty led with student support, and faculty and students teaching in tandem. Students can study a multitude of topics ranging from career and college exploration to Human Rights.

Last year, access academy served roughly 60 students, and now with a new grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, they are seeking to expand their reach. With the grant, the program will be able to add two new courses each semester for the next three years. The new courses each semester is a source of excitement for those in the Meelia Center, “we didn’t want to reach a point where we were turning students away because we can’t give them credit for a course they had already taken,” explained Drew.

Evolving Partnerships

Some sites undergo changes with staffing and funding, however, Meelia Center volunteers remain a constant force, two of these sites include Bring It and Granite Pathways. Sheila Ramirez ‘18 a Social Work major and Politics minor is the site coordinator for one of these sites, Bring It! After School. This is an after-school program primarily serving the immigrant and refugee populations in Manchester. Based out of Hillside Middle School, the program serves high school students in a variety of capacities including homework help, soccer, dance, nursing, and S.T.E.M.

Ramirez has been volunteering at Bring It! for three years and this is her second year as the site coordinator, in her three years with the program she has found it to be, “the best thing I have done at Saint A’s.” The students within the program have made a profound impact on Ramirez and she believes that those who volunteer with Bring It! are in for a meaningful experience, “these students, they are ambitious, intelligent, and strive for the future. I never feel like I’m working, but I know I’m making a lasting impact in their lives just like they’re making in mine.”

Granite Pathways is back as a service site through the Meelia Center, after a hiatus due to funding. As an organization Granite Pathways is one of the few places in the Manchester community that offers services for individuals struggling with mental illness. The framework of the group is that they describe themselves as a “club house” where members can come in, seek resources and a collaborative community, effectively eliminating isolation.

Service Events

The service events seek to provide relief for timely issues facing the community and country at large. Megan Bischoff ’19 a Business major and Peyton Gullikson ’20 a Communication major are co-coordinators for the Meelia Center’s service events this year. There are three programming initiatives that have been planned for the fall semester.

The first of which is the college’s inaugural Dance-A-Thon. The event will be from Friday, November 3 at 8 p.m. and will run through the evening until 2 a.m. The funds raised will support the Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts. “We are looking for a locally based organization effected by the hurricane to benefit from the event,” Bischoff explained. The idea for the Dance-A-Thon came from discussions about how the Meelia Center could engage a broader group of students on campus. As they finalize plans for the inaugural event, Drew comments, “we are looking to partner with other schools in the community, like SHNU or UNH Manchester, but we really want this to be a community event, whether that be as a combined force or as separate satellite dances.”

The following week November 11-18 is Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, an annual effort the week before Thanksgiving to increase awareness and facilitate meaningful dialogue between students on these key issues. With dialogue and an increased knowledge comes the ability and desire to engage with service within the community. According to Bischoff, “we are currently working on partnerships with other campus departments to create events for awareness and assistance that week.” Some of the events for the week include the annual sleep out and a meal with New Horizons, which is an organization that seeks to help those struggling with homelessness.

The final service event of the semester is the annual Holiday Fair in the Carr Center on December 2. The Holiday Fair is the largest event that the Meelia Center holds during the academic school year. Approximately 300 children from neighboring communities visit campus over the course of the day. Student led clubs and organizations host dozens of craft tables and activities for the children – even Santa usually makes an appearance!

All are encouraged to visit the Meelia Center’s office at 72 Saint Anselm Drive (across from the main campus entrance), to learn more about available volunteer opportunities for the semester.