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Digest: Volume 2, Issue 4
July 2013



Kids2College Gets Fall River Students Excited for Their Futures 

This article originally appeared in
The Fall River Herald on 
June 4 2013
Author: Michael Gagne
Click here for original article

Some of the city's fourth graders have already figured out what they want to be when they grow up. And now they know how to get there.

Haley Crivaro, inspired by the "Encyclopedia Brown" books she has read, wants to become a lawyer. She knows that it will take eight years of school and an LSAT exam between colleges.

Joshua Pitter wants to make video games. Of course, it will take some work - he would need to do well in high school to go to a school like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he would pursue a computer science degree.

Monday marked the second visit to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus for some 200 fourth graders from William S. Greene and John J. Doran elementary schools.

The visit to UMass Dartmouth was part of an inaugural Kids2College joint venture between UMass Dartmouth and the elementary schools. They all have different aspirations, but they came away knowing a college education is attainable and may help them achieve their future dream jobs.

In a tour of the UMass campus that was partly like a scavenger hunt, the children explored a few buildings, sometimes racing each other to each new site, while teachers and parents trailed only a few feet behind. They saw how different college is from their own schools, as they sat down in large lecture hall seats, and peered into art studios. "I'm definitely going to this college," exclaimed one girl, after checking out some of the rooms.

It wasn't just about the visit. Students had to do some of their own research. They were asked to identify a career, and learn about the schools that could help them get there. So they learned how they could become fashion designers, veterinarians, doctors and photographers. They learned about different schools - including Harvard University and Virginia Tech. Some careers take longer to achieve and need more degrees, they learned.

A handful of students made presentations to the whole group. Shalynn Woicik explained in order to become the owner of a hair salon, she should look into a trade school degree, and possibly a business degree. Others made posterboards for their presentations. Riley Arruda used his posterboard entry to explain his goal to attend the University of Chicago and become a businessman.

They also learned what it's like to be a college student - living in dorms, having roommates, eating in dining halls, making new friends. They learned that class schedules are different each day, and there are often long breaks between classes.

UMass Dartmouth junior Aubrie Brault led one of the tours, along with Community Service and Partnerships Director Deirdre Healy. Brault, who's from New Bedford, described to her group of students how a community service-based scholarship enables her to attend the school. "I get to live on campus for free," she said, "so I can focus on the really important thing." But in order to keep her scholarship, she must keep up her grades and perform community service, which she explained as helping others.

Educators said it was important to introduce the students to the idea of going to college early. Greene Elementary Principal Joel Jocelyn said he wants his students to have the mindset that college can be a possibility for them.

"Otherwise they wouldn't even think about it," Jocelyn said. "It was never a question. You have to start catching them now." Gary Marden, the program officer of the university's Leduc Center for Civic Engagement agreed.

Middle school is too late, he said. "What happens is students start thinking about dropping out when they get to middle school," Marden said.

Fall River Mayor and UMass Dartmouth alumnus Will Flanagan told the students college could help lead them to successful careers and future happiness.

"If you do well here, you can be whatever you want to be," Flanagan said.

This year was the program's pilot year. Next year, students from other grades will also participate. Students all received certificates that they had completed the inaugural Kids2College program.

Greene Elementary student Maxwell Kallio said he wants to be a video game programmer. "It's a wonderful experience," said Maxwell's mother, Latricia, of the program. "They learned that even if you don't have high grades and a lot of money there is still a way you can go to college." 

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Veterans Volunteer to Beautify Tonnessen Square Park 

This article originally appeared in
The New Bedford Standard Times on 
June 13 2013
Author: Matt Camara
Click here for original article

A group of volunteer veterans recently gave some blood, sweat, and tears to beautify Tonnessen Square Park, a patch of green near the ferry terminal where the flower beds had fallen on hard times. "A lot of work there, a lot of digging up big clumps of grass," Marine Corps veteran John Pisarezyk, 46, said. "It was a good few days of hard work."

For their work, the veterans were honored during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the park on June 13th.

The seven volunteers live at the Veterans Transition House on Willis Street. The men took part in greening up the park - located on the boardwalk between State Pier and Pier No. 3 - as part of a pilot program run by SouthCoast Serves coordinator Jacob Miller aimed at getting transitioning veterans working again. Miller - who works as a freelancer for The Standard-Times - said the volunteers worked to spruce up the flower beds in the park and worked four hours a day over three days to finish the project.

SouthCoast Serves is an initiative of UMass Dartmouth's Leduc Center for Civic Engagement and challenges people to perform 60 hours of community service, a pledge all seven of the veterans took, said Miller, a sophomore political science major at the university.

Tonnessen Square Park's flower beds fell into disrepair over the years as the volunteers who maintained them aged, making the work more difficult for them, Director of Parks and Recreation Mary Rapoza said.

The city park is maintained by the Department of Public Facilities, but it only has the staff to mow lawns and care for trees in New Bedford's parks, leaving the flower beds to volunteers, she added. The veterans provided some needed muscle to the repairs, planting more than 200 donated lilies.

Miller said the volunteers each received credit for a free night class at Greater New Bedford Regional Technical Vocational High School that they will be able to redeem come August.

Miller pointed out that without Voc-Tech, the Transition House, and other groups, the park's restoration would not have been possible. He added that the park is looking much better now after a few days of elbow grease.

"It was kind of a mess," Miller said. "It's a really great show of what collaboration can do."

Editor's Note: Jacob Miller is also a UMass Dartmouth Endeavor Scholar and is working with the Leduc Center's SouthCoast Serves initiative to build the infrastructure for service and volunteerism in the region. Please visit South-Coast-Serves.org for more information. For more information on the Endeavors program, please click here. 

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Sole Food Foot Clinic: Caring for Feet as Food for the Soul

by Reverend Russ Chamberlain, Director of Program Development, Mercy Meals and More    

Mercy Meals and More wishes to thank the Nursing program at UMass Dartmouth for partnering with us. In addition to providing our guests with on-going health screenings for blood pressure, they recently completed a five-week pilot Sole Food Foot Clinic project. 

Beginning on March 28th, guests staying at Mercy Meals and More were invited to participate in the clinic during breakfast. The aim of the clinic was two-fold: 1) to provide foot care to guests and 2) to give nursing students the opportunity to share their skills and talents while learning about the importance of foot care. Guests who participated were asked to sign consent forms and given pre-questionnaires to complete concerning what they knew about their current health, particularly in regards to hypertension (HTN), diabetes, and nutritional issues. In the first part of the clinic, guests were weighed and measured. They were then asked to remove their shoes and socks and place their feet in basins of warm water, where their feet were washed and soaked. During this time, the student nurse(s) assessed vital signs and examined the guest's feet for any abnormalities such as frost bite, abrasions, blisters, calluses, infections, etc.  

Dependent on the guest's answers to the pre-questionnaire and the assessment of his/her vital signs, the student nurse(s) provided the guest with appropriate educational material concerning nutrition. For example, someone with a history of or who has been assessed with hypertension may be given materials concerning diets low in sodium. Those who state they have been previously diagnosed with diabetes were given information on diabetic diet and foot care.

The guests of Mercy Meals and More are grateful to Kathleen Simmons Pilat, RN (graduate student) at the Sole Food Foot Clinic as well as Kerryn Kane, Samantha Silvia, and Emily White for choosing to minister to our needs by offering this foot clinic. Mercy Meals and More hopes to continue this clinic in the future when volunteers and funding are available.

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UMass Dartmouth Commonwealth Corps program: 
UMD CARES (Community Action Requires Engaging Students)   

This article originally appeared in 
The April/May Commonwealth Corps Newsletter  
Massachusetts Service Alliance 

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMD) has been a Commonwealth Corps host site since 2008, and their current supervisor Gary Marden is a Commonwealth Corps alum. This year, 5 flex-time members have been serving as Community Coordinators for UMD CARES (Community Action Requires Engaging Students), a collaboration with the Fall River School Department. Members have been developing and implementing community-based learning in elementary and middle schools to increase students' school and civic engagement, educational aspirations, and leadership, as well as volunteering with other education-related programming.  

The UMD CARES Commonwealth Corps members have served in 5 schools, reaching 250 Fall River students over two semesters. According to Marden, in addition to showing "increased awareness about community service, increased awareness about civic engagement, and increased leadership knowledge, skills and abilities," these middle and elementary school students "have shown an increased interest in school and in aspirations for higher education... due in part to our [UMD] students acting as role models for higher education and being able to relate to someone who is not an authority figure and closer to their age." 

Our UMD members represent the full range of ages in this year's Corps, from first-year student Becky Hough of Charlton, MA, to former Fall River Public Schools principal Margaret LaFleur, 71. Kelly Lyons, Carolina Ibarra, and Zach Angelo, round out the team, who have continued to partner with the Fall River Schools and build connections with teachers and students through the spring and past the end of the UMD school year. 

In addition to attending Commonwealth Corps-wide trainings and events, members have received training through UMD on a variety of topics, including leadership, team management, problem solving, and communication. Marden emphasized the power of their reflection sessions, saying, "The members have learned so much about themselves and about education. This has opened their eyes to so many things." 

As one example of their impact, Marden described one collaboration where "students at the Henry Lord Middle School collaborated with UMD graphic arts students. The goal was to design something to leave behind at their school that would be a legacy to them. The projects included a mural in the cafeteria of their mascot made up from all the signatures of the seventh grade and another mural that is representative of all the cultures of the students in the school." 

Jennifer Vincent, the 21st Century Community Learning Center Coordinator at the Watson Elementary School raved about the power of Becky Hough's service in their programming all year . Said Vincent, "Becky has been a valuable part of our team here. She's developed good relationships not only with the students, but also with the staff. Everyone knows her."

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UMD Students Contribute Art for South Main Outdoor Gallery

This article originally appeared in
The Fall River Herald on 
April 17 2013
Author: Michael Gagne
Click here for original article

The vision for an outdoor art gallery on South Main Street is as strong as ever.

Because several paintings had been stolen in recent years from the Arbor Gallery, a group of UMass Dartmouth students painted new portraits of birds, flowers, plants and vegetation Monday for the mural in the lot where the Park Cafe once stood.

The students' efforts were part of National Volunteer Week, which was organized locally by SouthCoast Serves, a partnership of local businesses and nonprofits.

"The hope is that people who walk by will see this mural and feel good about the city they live in," said Katrina Semich, a coordinator for Southcoast Serves.

The outdoor mural is located across the street from the Clipper Restaurant. The Park Cafe used to occupy the space until it burned down several years ago. In 2011, the city collaborated with the Greater Fall River Art Association, Millbilly Art Studios, YouthBuild and local artists to transform the blighted downtown lot into the city's first outdoor gallery.

However, several paintings, except for one nature scene, were taken from the gallery. Semich said the volunteers were looking to "fill in the gaps" and help to realize the space's potential.

Lynne LaBerge, an artist who designed the mural, said the idea was to create an outdoor art gallery that could draw in the community. "It's exciting to see all these young people out here volunteering," LaBerge said.

Bethany Racicot, 22, a UMass Dartmouth senior and campus chapter president of Habitat for Humanity, said she convinced her roommates to join her in painting the mural.

Earlier on Monday, Racicot and the other volunteers helped weed and prepare the gardens for planting at the First Congregational Church of Fall River.

"We wanted to help out," Racicot said.

For a video about this year's National Volunteer Week, please click here.

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Outreach > Leduc Center for Civic Engagement > Digest > July 2013