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.

Student Government Association Holds Inauguration Ceremony

Outgoing SGA V.P. Mack Douglas '15 and incoming SGA President Nolan Varee '16

Spring is associated with a time of change and student government is no exception to the rules of spring. Every March, a new set of students is voted into office. The election season culminates with the annual Student Government Association (SGA) Inauguration at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. The annual Inauguration marks the end of an administration and the beginning of a new one.

Outgoing SGA V.P. Mack Douglas '15 and incoming SGA President Nolan Varee '16

Outgoing SGA V.P. Mack Douglas '15 and incoming SGA President Nolan Varee '16

This year’s inauguration was on Sunday, March 22. Students, faculty, staff, families and friends celebrated the accomplishments of the 2014-2015 administration and passed the torch to the incoming members. Secretary of Internal Procedures, Daniel Bartley ’15 served as the master of ceremonies.

During the inauguration, outgoing president and vice president David McKillop and Mackenzie Douglas respectively, reflected on their four-year journey with SGA and their accomplishments with this year’s administration. Newly elected president Nolan Varee ’16 and vice president Brian Salvie ’16 followed with speeches of their own. McKillop and Douglas performed their final duty of swearing-in Varee and Salvie.

The newly elected class councils were then sworn in, promising to uphold the standards set by student government to serve the student body.

Aside from the swearing-in of newly elected members, the following awards were presented:

  • Abbott Gerald McCarthy Award (Professor of the Year): Joshua Tepley, Philosophy
  • Constance Richards Award (Staff/Faculty Member of the Year): Michael Murphy, Residential Life
  • Alicia Finn Award (Administrator of the Year): Father Benet Phillips, O.S.B., Registrar
  • Peter Guerin Award (Club of the Year): Best Buddies
  • Joseph Horton SGA Member of the Year: Marcello Cugno ’15

SGA InaugurationSeven seniors were recognized for their four-year commitment to SGA and the student body: David McKillop, Mackenzie Douglas, Brooke Judd, Colleen Tracy, Dominique Del Prete, Kyleigh Judge and Kayla Hart.

Aside from swearing in newly elected members, Inauguration is a time to reflect on the accomplishments SGA made over the course of a year.

During McKillop and Douglas’s time in office, they focused SGA’s efforts on student-related concerns. Many changes took place on campus, including food labeling in Davison for dietary and religious needs, increased number of spirit events at athletic contests, vending machines in the library, and three water filtration systems. The student senate also passed resolutions for new washers and dryers, a 24-hour study space, 24-hour printing, recycling bins in the coffee shop (coming soon!), more cell phone chargers in the library, and half-year parking permits.

On the event front, SGA sponsored the Winter White Out, which saw almost 1,300 students attend, the Anselmian Olympiad on April 12, the Paint Party on April 29 and fireworks on April 24. This is in addition to many smaller events and changes the student senate and executive board put into place throughout the year.

“Dave and I set out last year with a few things in mind,” said Douglas. “We wanted to make SGA more about the students. Every dollar that SGA spent this year was for the students.”

SGA serves as a voice for all students on campus. Elected members plan events for individual classes and the student body as a whole. Every Sunday, class representatives bring issues and concerns to the student senate and members work together to create a solution and bring solutions to the administration. Senate meetings are open to the student body, and students are encouraged to attend and voice their opinions and concerns. Class councils plan events such as Grilled Cheese Nights, Junior and Senior Formals, as well as different class fundraisers.

Best of luck to the Varee and Salvie administration and all of the newly elected members!

Campus EMTs Attend National Conference in Baltimore  

Saint Anselm College EMS

Spring break. A time to relax and unwind from the semester. While a majority of students were away on vacation or serving others, ten students served in a different way. These ten students, all members of the Saint Anselm College Emergency Medical Service, made the trip to Baltimore, Md. and attended the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation Conference from Feb. 27 to March 1.

Saint Anselm College EMSThe annual conference provides an opportunity to bring college EMTs together from all over the country to attend educational workshops and network. Students in attendance use the information gained at the conference to update their EMT skills needed for license renewal every two years.

“A presentation that many of the members found interesting was on lessons learned in combat surgery in Afghanistan,” said Senior Christopher Kelleher. “Many advances in EMS come from the military environment.”

Saint Anselm College EMSMembers of the Emergency Medical Service attended workshops such as trauma on campus, burn care, psychiatric emergency treatment, concussion care, infectious disease outbreak on campus, and various types of pre-hospital care.

Students also met up with former Saint Anselm EMS Captain, Kate Marquis '12, the Northern Northeast Regional Coordinator for the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation. Marquis presented a workshop on “Acting Fast with Strokes.”

The following students represented Saint Anselm:

  • Captain Christopher Kelleher '15 – Computer Science
  • Lieutenant Catherine Stack '16 – Natural Science
  • Andrew Beliveau '16 – Biology
  • Briana Goddard '16 – Chemistry
  • Christopher Anderson '16 – Forensic Science
  • Elizabeth Gilboy '16 – Forensic Science
  • Emily Erickson '16 – Biology
  • Katie Gargano '16 – Nursing
  • Samantha Lamb '16 – Nursing
  • Emily Arnold '17 – Nursing

SACEMS works closely with College Health Services and the Office of Safety and Security to provide first-response emergency medical to students, faculty, staff and visitors on campus. They provide a quick response and offer immediate pre-hospital care prior to transport by the Goffstown Fire Department. As a team, they average 90 calls during the academic year and cover major events on campus.

Students "Dream" With Girls Inc.

Students work with Girls Inc. participants

When asked what their dream is for the world, one girl raised her hand and said, “My dream is for everyone to go to college.” A flurry of movement occurred shortly after the statement as seventeen girls began reaching for art supplies in order to draw their own dreams. As the girls worked, they excitedly shared their dreams with Saint Anselm volunteers.

In January as part of “A Moment (f)or a Movement,” a month long series of events honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., members of Girls Inc. participated in an “I Have a Dream” event hosted by the Meelia Center For Community Engagement and the Multicultural Center.

Students work with Girls Inc. participantsSaint Anselm College volunteers—students, staff, and faculty—presented on Martin Luther King, Jr. including the history of segregation, Little Rock Nine, Faith Ringold, and Civil Rights. The girls were also shown art and children’s literature reflecting this time period and they watched a section of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Volunteers asked the girls questions and engaged them in conversation throughout the presentation, encouraging the girls to speak their minds and share their knowledge.

“We want the girls to see what a college campus is like, to get excited, and further their motivation to eventually go to college themselves” says Amy Vachon ’17, Meelia Center's Co-Coordinator for Girls Inc. “We hope to integrate them as much as we can into our lives as students and create a stronger bond with all the girls.”

After the presentation, the girls were given art supplies such as markers and magazines and asked to make a poster displaying what their dream is for the nation. For an hour, the West Wing at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics was turned into an art studio, filled with motivated girls hoping to make a difference.

Girls Inc. is an organization that helps girls achieve their personal best through a wide range of programs, leadership development and a family-like environment.

Throughout the semester, Girls Inc. will be coming to campus to various athletic and educational events. Once a month, they will join Saint Anselm students for dinner in Davison. On February 18, they will attend the Saint Anselm College’s women’s basketball game sporting pink for the annual breast cancer awareness game. Different clubs and organizations on campus have also reached out with Girls Inc. to get involved.



Matthew Pendergast Named Newman Civic Fellow

Matthew Pendergast

Saint Anselm student, Matthew Pendergast, was recognized by Campus Compact for his inspiring leadership and community service. He was named a 2012 Newman Civic Fellow, along with 161 other students from 32 states. He is a junior majoring in Peace and Justice Studies.

Matthew PendergastCampus Compact is a national coalition of more than 1,000 college and university presidents-representing some six million students who are committed to improving community life and educating students for civic and social responsibility. The Newman Civic Fellow Awards recognize college student leaders who have worked to find solutions for challenges facing their communities.

According to Campus Compact, Pendergast demonstrates the type of civic engagement that sets an example for others. He is the co-coordinator of the Meelia Center's Langdon Mill project, which serves Manchester apartment complex primarily for refugee families. He is a member of the team that equips tenants with skills and tools to monitor for bedbugs, and helps to provide activities for the building's youth.

This post was submitted by Kristen MacNeil '12.

Saint Anselm College Recognizes Student Leaders

2012 Coleman Award recipients

Saint Anselm College takes pride in the generosity and service to humanity demonstrated by its students. On Wednesday, March 28, the college recognized 16 students at the 19th annual Paul S. Coleman Volunteer Service and Leadership awards ceremony.

2012 Coleman Award recipientsPaul Coleman, a former Saint Anselm College sociology professor, spent his life in selfless service to others. In honor of his memory, Saint Anselm presents an award for service and service leadership to seniors who demonstrate a commitment to others during their four years on campus. In addition, individual college departments recognize students for their involvement and service.

The following students received recognition:

  • Justine Saabs ’12, criminal justice – Paul S. Coleman Outstanding Community Service Award for outstanding service

"Justine is one of those extraordinary students who is linked to those across the campus who share her passion for service. She made service an integral part of her Saint Anselm journey from the start. She ventured out to the Youth Development Center to work with adjudicated youth and show them that they mattered and that they had gifts just like everyone else. Because those are hard lessons for incarcerated youth to accept, she stayed right there with them semester after semester. She helped to create a climate of wonderment and joy at Langdon Mill where young refugee children could flourish and amaze us all. Again this is complex and challenging work which may be why she never left there either."

  • Teresa Scalzi ’12, nursing – Paul S. Coleman Senior Service Award for outstanding service leadership

"Teresa’s possesses a number of strengths as a service leader;  she is passionate about helping those most in need; she utilizes well developed relationships to support those who engage in service with her; and she works hard to meet her commitments and assists others in meeting theirs."

  • Kevin Ward ’12, communication – Paul S. Coleman Senior Service Award for outstanding service leadership

"Kevin exemplifies community, sharing and he creates a positive environment; he has a wonderful personality and he is part of everything we think of when we think of Saint Anselm College. It’s truly hard to imagine the College without him.” -Neil Levesque, Executive Director, New Hampshire Institute of Politics & Political Library

Marina Alberti ’12 – Annual Volunteer Award Presented to an outstanding family weekend student volunteer in recognition of their exemplary campus service and leadership

Bridget Taylor – Fr. Michael Custer, O.S.B., Service Award Presented to an outstanding student in recognition for exemplary involvement and service to the Office of Admission and Saint Anselm College community

Ashley Vannasse – Fr. Michael Custer, O.S.B., Service Award Presented to an outstanding student in recognition for exemplary involvement and service to the Office of Admission and Saint Anselm College community

Jonathan O’Reilly – Annual Volunteer Award Annual Volunteer Award presented to an outstanding a member of Athletics in recognition for exemplary community service and involvement

Meaghan Ryan – Sr. Pauline Lucier, C.S.C. Award Presented to an outstanding member of Campus Ministry in recognition for exemplary community service and involvement

Kristin Harper – Sr. Pauline Lucier, C.S.C. Award Presented to an outstanding member of Campus Ministry in recognition for exemplary community service and involvement

Kathryn Marquis ’12 – Annual Volunteer Award presented to outstanding individual for care of the sick and/or advancement of the health of our community in recognition for exemplary community service and involvement

Katie Laque – Annual Volunteer Award presented to an outstanding service partnership in recognition for exemplary community service and involvement from the Meelia Center

John Pearson ’14 – Annual Volunteer Award presented to an outstanding NHIOP student leader in recognition for exemplary involvement and community service

Anthony Desmond ’12 – Annual Volunteer Award presented to an outstanding New Student Orientation Volunteer in recognition for exemplary community service and involvement

Brittany Handcock ’12 – Annual Volunteer Award presented to an outstanding student organization or committee in recognition for exemplary community service and involvement

Ashley O’Toole ’12 – Annual Volunteer Award presented to an outstanding member of the Multicultural Center in recognition for exemplary community service and involvement

Cedric Ashley ’11 – Annual Volunteer Award presented to an outstanding member of the Multicultural Center in recognition for exemplary community service and involvement

photos courtesy of Fr. Mathias Durette, O.S.B.

Service & Solidarity: Additional Trips Check In


All trips had checked in by Wednesday night with the Campus Ministry office. Many groups are sending back regular text message and photo updates, but a mid-week conversation confirmed that everyone is having a wonderful time at their service sites.

Whether building a home, working with disadvantaged populations, or ministering through the simple act of presence, Anselmians continue a twenty-two year tradition started with a single trip to Orland, Maine which has grown to now accommodate trips during spring, summer and winter breaks. Nine trips are spread out across the United States, while one group works in Los Chiles, Costa Rica.

Throughout the week, participants learn about Catholic social teaching while spending time living and working with those most in need.

SERVICE & SOLIDARITY: Following are vignettes from groups, originally posted to the Service & Solidarity blog, managed by Campus Ministry.

The Benedictine School, Maryland

Maryland is in love with the kids at the Benedictine School!

Navajo Nation, Arizona

The Navajo group called as they were getting out of their service at the school, and preparing for a Native American sweat lodge experience.

This has always been a wonderful experience for the group in understanding the Navajo spirituality.

St. Joan of Arc School, New Orleans, Louisiana

Leaders Jenn and Cait emailed an update titled "Hello from Sunny New Orleans!"

We are having a blast getting to know the kids at the St. Joan of Arc Catholic School. They are so full of life and energy; it's heartbreaking to learn how much Hurricane Katrina impacted them and their families. We have been able to visit the lower ninth ward where the levees broke during the storm, which has been very emotional and made a huge impact on our lives.

Ms. Frost, the principal of the school, is such a special and wonderful person who has made this school a place where these children can be loved, as well as able to learn in an environment that strives off of their faith and hope. She was able to give us a tour of the lower ninth ward where we were blown away by the destruction and devastation that is still so evident today.

She then so kindly took us to dinner where we had all varieties of New Orleans' specialty; seafood! We hope you enjoy the pictures of these awesome kids and we are looking forward to spending the last 2 days with them!

Andre house of Hospitality, Phoenix, Arizona

Guests wait outside the Andre House

Guests wait outside the Andre House

The Phoenix group has the unique experience of joining the Andre House staff at White Tanks cemetery, where on the first week of the month, the staff volunteers to perform burial ceremonies for the unclaimed dead of Phoenix (mostly the homeless population, or people who cannot afford a proper burial.)

Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, Costa Rica

Editor's note: The Costa Rica leaders, Meaghan and Nicole emailed this update on Tuesday, 28 February.

Just a quick update from Los Chiles! For the past 3 days we have been hard at work. We tore down the Martinez-Espinoza house on the first day and now at the end of day three we have all the walls up and two room floors fully cemented. In between these two stages, we have dug 26 three-feet holes using shovels and metal sticks with a sharp head to break up dirt (similar to the end of an axe but dull), carried extremely heavy cement beams, mixed concrete, leveled a floor and carried the cement wall pieces to be placed. Today and yesterday we have also made time, in between working, to play soccer with Jose Carmelo and Isaida, two of the children from the family. Today some of the neighboring children joined us too, and we had a lot of fun playing with them.

Yesterday, we took a tour of some of the other parts of Los Chiles and got to see a house Saint A’s built a few years ago. During this tour we were able to deliver gifts from a Manchester sponsor to three of her sponsored kids.  The area we are in is extremely impoverished but absolutely breathtaking at the same time. It’s safe to say our group feels humbled and thankful for this experience.

Tomorrow we have our day off. First, we get to sleep in and then go on a scenic boat tour of Rio Frio towards the Nicaraguan border. Next, we have a soccer match scheduled in the afternoon with local children, our whole group and the CFCA members.

So far the weather has been beautiful and not too hot, the people are more than welcoming and the food is great.

Students Deliver Food, Clothing, and Furniture to Manchester Residents

students handing out toys and books to children in Manchester

Meg Wood '10 and Allie Riley '09 with children from ManchesterIf attention spans and academic motivation wavered as summer vacation loomed near, the Benedictine spirit was one aspect of Saint Anselm College that remained strong when 20 students delivered food, clothing, and furniture to charities and needy families in Manchester, N.H. through the Food, Clothing and Furniture (FCF) Drive. [Read more…]

SIFE Team Takes New England by Storm

Saint Anselm SIFE Chapter with award

Saint Anselm SIFE Chapter with awardGathered inside a newly furnished conference room in Joseph Hall, the SIFE team looks more like seasoned business professionals than college students. The team's enthusiasm is infectious as they chatter about winning their third consecutive New England SIFE Championship on March 31, 2009. Watch out Philadelphia, Saint Anselm is ready to rock their competition at the SIFE National Exposition on May 10-12. [Read more…]