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Digest: Volume 3, Issue 1
January 2014


Leduc Center Receives Gift in Honor of Reverend Dr. Robert Lawrence

UMass Dartmouth announced today a $1.14 million philanthropic gift froman anonymous donor to honor Reverend Dr. Robert P. Lawrence. Reverend Lawrence is pastor emeritus and previously senior minister of the First Congregational Church in Fall River since 1985, and a longtime inspirational leader of the SouthCoast civic community for more than six decades. The gift will be invested in civic engagement-related programs.   

"This generous gift recognizes Reverend Lawrence's indelible impact on Fall River and the SouthCoast and the enormous respect and goodwill he has earned," UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman said. "His life of service guides us as we commit to instilling his spirit of civic engagement throughout our community for years to come. We are honored by the trust being placed in UMass Dartmouth to carry on Reverend Lawrence's legacy of service." 

Reverend Lawrence is completing a 60-year ministry, having served churches in Little Compton, Rhode Island; Fall River, Massachusetts; and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. During his ministerial career he has conducted thousands of baptisms, marriages, and funerals, making him an integral part of the community's life. Beyond his church, Rev. Lawrence is responsible for beginning the Pastoral Care Department at the Charlton Memorial site of Southcoast Hospitals. Reverend Lawrence also served as chaplain aboard the famous grand ocean liner Queen Elizabeth II, better known as the QE2, in addition to the Queen Mary II cruise ship. He served as chaplain for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. 

Rev. Lawrence championed efforts to remove more than 3,000 guns from the streets of Fall River, create the first Fall River police K-9 unit, and purchase public safety equipment such as defibrillators. He is a trustee on three charitable foundations and serves on the boards of 18 community organizations. He has received numerous community awards, including the Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award from Bristol Community College in 1995 and a UMass Dartmouth Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2007. 

"I am honored that this gift will result in new research, education, and civic engagement opportunities for students and a strengthened region-wide commitment to service," Reverend Lawrence said. "It is vital that our support remains steadfast for students and programs that inspire hope and positive change." 

The anonymous gift will provide support for the near-term efforts and long-term goals of the renowned Robert and Jeanne Leduc Center for Civic Engagement at UMass Dartmouth. The Leduc Center was started by UMass Dartmouth in the fall, 2008 to integrate the intellectual talents and pursuits of students and faculty with the needs of the community. 

"The most exciting aspect is to have Reverend Lawrence directly involved with our faculty and students," said Dr. Matthew Roy, Assistant Provost and Director of the Leduc Center. "His life is a symbol for all as he has used his many gifts to make the world a better place. The impact of this gift will grow geometrically as it instills values of civic responsibility for generations of UMass Dartmouth students." 

In the past year, UMass Dartmouth students have dedicated 195,063 hours of community service at a value of $5.3 million to the community. More than 100 UMass Dartmouth faculty members taught 170 service-learning sections this past academic year that exposed close to 5,000 students to service-learning, taking part in projects that benefit our community.  This work has gained national recognition, making UMass Dartmouth one of 12 President Higher Education Honor Roll Finalist out of nearly 4,500 campuses nationwide. Washington Monthly also ranked UMass Dartmouth at #25 on its list of best master's institutions in the United States, which focuses on the impacts a university has on individuals and communities. 

This gift will enable the establishment and funding of the Reverend Dr. Robert P. Lawrence Lecture Series, The Reverend Dr. Robert P. Lawrence Civic Engagement Summit, and the Reverend Dr. Robert P. Lawrence Service-Learning Fellows. 

UMass Dartmouth will also dedicate a room at the university as the Reverend Dr. Robert P. Lawrence Community Service Room. This room will be a visual symbol of the community service work that Reverend Lawrence has performed on behalf of his community.  It will also be a gathering place for students in service and for faculty and students to reflect upon their service and engagement. 

UMass Dartmouth distinguishes itself as a vibrant public university actively engaged in personalized teaching and innovative research, and acting as an intellectual catalyst for regional economic, social, and cultural development. UMass Dartmouth's mandate to serve its community is realized through countless partnerships, programs, and other outreach efforts to engage the community, and apply its knowledge to help address local issues and empower others to facilitate change for all.

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Learning and Serving in Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Monday, January 20th, SouthCoast Serves* will celebrate Martin Luther King Day as a day ON for service. Activities planned for the day include a MLK Teach-in at Roosevelt Middle School for area middle school students and a service event at Gifts to Give.

This year, in addition to the activities identified, SouthCoast Serves will be launching an Anti-Hunger Campaign to highlight Dr. King's anti-poverty message. Dr. King, best-known as a champion of civil rights, believed the issues of economic inequality and poverty were the next civil rights battle. As Dr. King stated in his last sermon, "If a man doesn't have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty, and the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists." SouthCoast Serves would like to focus on Dr. King's final civil rights battle.  We want to help the communities of the SouthCoast region not merely survive but thrive through service and volunteerism around the issue of food security. 

To participate in our hunger relief effort, we invite everyone to:

1. Volunteer. Adopt an anti-hunger project in your neighborhood by visiting www.volunteersouthcoast.org. To search for volunteer opportunities, click on opportunities located on the horizontal navigation bar at the top of the screen, and then Food/hunger relief under the Filter Opportunity Type. 

2. Attend a screening of "A Place at the Table". This 2012 documentary shows how hunger poses a serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation. For dates and times of screening, please visit www.south-coast-serves.org.

3. Participate in the Food Justice Art Exhibit & Auction. Local artists that have been matched with a local anti-hunger project to produce works of art that will be on display and available for auction.

   Art Exhibit, New Bedford

   Monday, Jan. 20th - Friday, Jan. 24th     
   Pilgrim United Church
   635 Purchase Street, New Bedford
   Opening Reception*
   Monday, January 20th 5-7pm
   Exhibit Hours:
   Tuesday, Jan. 21st-Friday, Jan. 24th, 11am-2pm

   Art Exhibit, Fall River

   Monday, Jan. 27th - Friday, Jan. 31st
   City Hall
   1 Government Center Fall River
   Closing Reception*
   Friday, January 31st 5-7pm
   Exhibit Hours:
   Tuesday, Jan. 28th-Friday, Jan 31st, 9am-5pm  

   *Join us! Meet the artists and representatives from local anti-hunger organizations.
     Refreshments will be served.

   Bid to benefit local anti-hunger projects! www.32auctions.com/hungercampaign
   The online auction opens January 20th and closes at midnight, February 3rd.


   "A Plate Full of Hope" by local artist Ann Hussy.
     One of the art pieces on display and available
                             at the auction.

For more information, please contact Gabrielle Monteiro, SouthCoast Serves Coordinator and AmeriCorps member at 508.999.8932 or email southcoastserves@gmail.com.

*SouthCoast Serves is a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Leduc Center for Civic Engagement facilitated collaborative that fosters service and volunteerism to meet the needs of our community by leveraging resources, expertise and capacity to maximize impact.

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Endeavor Scholar Helps Make Insurance Costs
Affordable for Massachusetts College Students

This article originally appeared in
The Boston Globe on
January 2 2014
Author: Marcella Bombardieri 

Thousands of low- and moderate-income college students are about to get a break on the cost of health insurance, thanks to new rules going into effect Friday to bring the state into compliance with the national health care law - as well as the advocacy of two passionate college sophomores.

Until now, Massachusetts denied most full-time college students free or subsidized state health insurance through Commonwealth Care or MassHealth, forcing them to buy insurance directly from their colleges if they are not on their parents' plan. That meant many students who otherwise might have had free or low-cost health insurance were instead charged thousands of dollars. Premiums vary widely, but the annual premiums at the University of Massachusetts' Boston and Dartmouth campuses are about $2,100 this year.

While some students received financial aid to cover their health insurance, several advocates said they heard from students forced to take out more loans to cover their insurance, drop to part-time studies, or even take time off from school. "That really shook people up a little bit, that students were making academic decisions based on health insurance," said Ferd Wulkan, interim Executive Director of PHENOM, a grass-roots advocacy group for affordable public education in Massachusetts.

The Affordable Care Act has changed the ground rules. The state is no longer allowed to exclude from subsidized programs those who can get insurance elsewhere, and that includes college students, according to Suzanne Curry, senior health policy manager with Health Care For All, a Massachusetts advocacy group. At the same time, she said, the law's Medicaid expansion means that young people won't lose MassHealth at age 19, as many have in the past. The Massachusetts Health Connector issued rules in December requiring colleges to accept plans from the Connector or MassHealth, with a few rare exceptions. Base premiums for Connector plans next year range from free to about $1,400 a year, depending on income level.

State officials did not have an estimate for the number of students who would benefit from the changes. Most college students are covered by their parents' private health insurance, but more than 108,000 students were enrolled in health insurance through their colleges in the 2009-2010 academic year, according to state data. It is not clear how many of them will now qualify for subsidized state plans.

Long before the Connector issued the new rules, two interns for state Senator Mark Montigny, a New Bedford Democrat, were on the case. Jacob Miller, a UMass Dartmouth sophomore, has interned for Montigny for three summers, and first heard complaints about the insurance gap from constituents.

"You are telling students that they're in college, where you're going to better your life, but we're going to punish you in a way, we're going to take away your health insurance and force you to buy [more expensive] health insurance," Miller said.

He first raised the issue with Senate staffers in 2012. Then, serving in the student senate during his freshman year at UMass Dartmouth, he met low-income classmates who were forced to pay for the college's insurance.

This past summer, he raised the issue again with Senate staffers and Montigny himself.

Coincidentally, so did his fellow intern Marc-Daniel Paul, now a sophomore at Suffolk University. Paul, whose family was living in a shelter when they moved to Massachusetts three years ago, had insurance through MassHealth but said Suffolk still enrolled him in its program anyway. He had financial aid and scholarships to cover the cost, but heard from other college students who were taking out extra loans to pay for insurance.

Montigny was concerned that some colleges appeared to be refusing to accept MassHealth policies even from the students who still qualified for the program. He ultimately got an amendment requiring colleges to accept such policies added to the bill signed by Governor Deval Patrick in July implementing the Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts.

"We succeeded not in small part because of the personal experiences of Jacob and Marc-Daniel," Montigny said. "What better way to legislate? It's one of the more interesting amendments I've had in years because of their involvement."

Jacob Miller is a second year Endeavor Scholar and the recipient of the Dukakis Internship Award last year.

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SouthCoast Serves Volunteer Superstars 2013

On November 15, 2013, SouthCoast Serves held their Annual Service Showcase at the Marine Museum in Fall River. The following are the volunteer superstars who were honored at the event for their dedication to service with their nominating organization. Read further and learn what makes them volunteer superstars.

Samuel Preciado Jr. 
Bristol Community College

Samuel is a veteran and a full-time student majoring in Computer Information Systems at Bristol Community College. Last semester, he organized an on-campus blood drive through the Red Cross, which will earn him the distinction of graduating as a Community Service Leader. In 2013, he received the prestigious President's Volunteer Service Award from the Corporation for National and Community Service for his exemplary work in the local community.  

Angela Newel
Veterans Transition House 
Angela started volunteering at the Veterans Transition House in April. Highly motivated and passionate about helping veterans, Angela started cooking, visiting with residents of the Per Diem Program, and teaching classes on knitting and meditation techniques. Angela not only gives of her time, but also her friendship to the staff and residents of the Veterans Transition House.



Patrick McCarthy
YMCA Share the Harvest

Patrick, a UMass Dartmouth Junior majoring in Bio-Engineering, is the Volunteer Superstar at Sharing the Harvest Community Farm. He has become an invaluable member of the Sharing the Harvest family. According to farm manager Dan King, he can teach children, lead peers, and earn respect from every age generation. He is the epitome of everything a farmer, a volunteer, and a community member should be - he works hard and he cares.



Gilbert Cabral 
Gifts to Give

Gilbert has over 4,000 hours of volunteer service with GiftsToGive. Gilbert was born in New Bedford, and he personifies giving and service. What endears Gilbert to others is that he "walks the walk" - he is as genuine as can be and he works hard almost every day at making things better for New Bedford.  



Clare Geggatt 
Coastline Elderly Foster Grandparent Program

In 2008, Clare approached the Foster Grandparent Program volunteers to see if they would be interested in writing Christmas cards for the service men and women stationed overseas. We lost count after 200 cards were written and shipped out that year.  It has now been five years since the Foster Grandparent Program joined forces with Claire Geggatt and the "Soldiers Helpers of New England", the Foster Grandparent volunteers continue to sew and write to the soldiers stationed overseas.



Zak Hahn
Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

Zak jumps right in to the hardest work groups at the Mass Audubon with ease. He becomes friends with whomever he is working with instantly. Just recently we called upon Zak to assist us with a project down at Westport Point. It was a pleasure to listen to his knowledge on coastal organisms, as we removed an extremely heavy dock. Zak taught Mass Audubon staff and volunteers how to identify Asian shore crabs, orange slime tunicates and striped anemones with absolute passion.



Betty Fabian 
Our Sisters' School (OSS)

Betty is a retired nurse who volunteers with Our Sisters' School several times a week to help with their medical needs. She got the entire OSS staff certified in First Aid and CPR. OSS loves "Nurse Betty" and can't imagine school life without her. OSS is only one of the many volunteer jobs she holds in the area.



(Rick) Correia 
Ocean Explorium

Rick has been instrumental in helping the Ocean Explorium develop their Coral Farm. Rick's passion is to grow coral and educate people of all ages about its intricacies and importance within our ecosystem. Rick's dedication and enthusiasm continues to positively impact their institution as well as our community. 




Carlos Rodrigues & Mike Cabral 
Mercy Meals and More

Carlos fast became the reliable French toast person at Mercy Meals and More. He would show up 6 days a week and handle the French toast making. Carlos does not hesitate to help with the dishes, taking out the trash, and mopping the floors every day. He has become Rev. Russ' right hand man. He has lived in the United States for over 25 years and is presently studying hard to become a US Citizen. Mercy Meals and More will be celebrating when he gets his citizenship. He has been a real asset to the program. 

Mike is a devoted volunteer with Mercy Meals and More. He walks every day to volunteer in the early morning. He is responsible for handling the English Muffins and, on some days, he is our official greeter. This summer he agreed to be at all our community events and he sat at each one and advocated for Mercy Meals and More.

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2014 Civic Engagement Summit - Save the Date!


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