Plymouth State University Celebrates Volunteerism

May 22nd, 2007 by Adam

Whether in Plymouth, Holderness, or Hebron, N.H.; or in Maine, the Dominican Republic or Florida, Plymouth State University students volunteer by the dozen.

Service to the community is part of the PSU mission, and students, staff and faculty support it wholeheartedly.

Led by Nancy Conklin, a former Vista worker through New Hampshire Campus Compact, and Amber Rethwisch, an Americorps Vista worker, the Community Service Learning Center at PSU has continuously expanded its outreach, identifying opportunities for student volunteers, arranging placements, and facilitating programs.

Introducing this year’s recognition program, Rethwisch talked about the many organizations and programs that benefit from PSU student service, such as the March of Dimes and Keeping You, Me, and Memories Alive, the Angel Tree Project that provides holiday gifts to several hundred area children, Alternative Spring Break that this year sent teams to New Orleans and the Florida Everglades, the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Maine where students built protective fencing for piping plover habitat, two annual blood drives, the local Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week activities, the Polar Express in North Conway, and regional Girl Scouts of America.

Local organizations supported by work study students, a program greatly expanded by Rethwisch, include the New Hampshire Veterans’ Home in Tilton, Brian’s House, Bridge House, Inc., CADY, Inc. Newfound Audubon Center, the Pemi-Baker Literacy Task Force, Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, Plymouth Elementary School A+P.L.U.S. program, Speare Memorial Hospital and the Whole Village Child Care Center.

Before classes begin each fall, new students are invited to participate in a weeklong Community Service Orientation, completing service projects and an introduction to life at PSU. This year, 25 students and five leaders participated in projects and training throughout the local area.

PSU Volunteers is an official student organization, headed this year by senior Chris DiVeglio, a meteorology major from Morrisville, Pa. DiVeglio, who was recognized for his leadership of PSU Volunteers, presented leadership awards to:

Amanda Morris, a junior psychology major from Manchester, for leadership of Alternative Spring Break; Amanda Boisvert, a junior marketing major from Allenstown, also for Alternative Spring Break; Jaclyn Johnson, a junior meteorology major from Truro, Mass., for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week; Leslie Kingsley, a senior finance major from Brattleboro, Vt., for Community Service Orientation; Gene Martin, a sophomore political science major from Manchester, for newsletter production; Kevin Pallotti, a junior childhood studies major from Newington, Conn., for the March of Dimes; Megan Dessert, a junior psychology major from Claremont, and Miranda Blanchette, a junior childhood studies major from Hancock, for the Angel Tree Project; Alisha Blanchette, a first-year English major from Hancock and Meaghan Bixby, a first-year undeclared major from Merrimack, Mass., for Blood Drives.

winnersDiVeglio and Kingsley also received the 2007 Community Service Award, a special annual award presented by the Community Service Learning Center.

Additional seniors recognized for their contribution to the center were Amanda Drapcho, a theatre arts major from Greenland; Jeremy Foskitt, a political science major from Auburn, who is the 2007 PSU student trustee; and Andrew McLean, a meteorology major from Rochester.

PSU Volunteers recognized were: Paul DellaGrotte, a junior business administration major from Pelham, as Rookie of the Year; Jess Chisholm, a sophomore biology major from Lexington, Mass., for taking initiative; Gene Martin, PSU Volunteers as vice president; Jamie Osborn, a sophomore adventure education major from Lexington, Mass., Lauren Moulis, a junior environmental biology major from Manchester, and Kingsley as team players; and Jana McLoughlin, a sophomore childhood studies major from Needham, Mass., as International Travel Planner.

Conklin, who had already retired from one career, ended her official service to PSU with this recognition event, but not without leaving an enduring legacy as a social and environmental activist and a role model for civic engagement, lifelong learning and personal growth, according to Terri Potter, director of the Hartman Union at PSU.

Potter told of four recent graduates who worked with Conklin during their PSU years and have gone on to careers in service – with Campus Compact of New Hampshire, the Pemi Youth Center, and the Faith, Hope and Love Foundation that was founded by two of them. One just completed work on a fundraiser for Boys Hope, Girls Hope that raised $300,000.

Concluding this event, senior Andrew McLean reflected on chatting about sociopolitical issues with Conklin over cups of fair trade coffee. He spoke of her “ … passion for nature … invigorating love for life … respect for all people … and vision of peace for everyone in the world.”