Service with a Mile
St. Lawrence faculty, staff and students serve Canton and its surrounding communities in more ways, and more prolifically, than most of us realize. Last spring, University communications intern Emily Denham ’08, an English major from Woods Hole, Mass., sent out a campus-wide appeal for those who were engaged in service to tell her what they were doing. Here’s a sample of the replies she received.
|Aileen O’Donoghue, Priest Associate Professor of Physics
Adirondack Public Observatory Board, Stimulating Opportunities After Retirement (SOAR)
“I love learning about the physical world and my passion in life is to understand it and share that understanding with others,” says O’Donoghue. That passion drove her to accept membership on the Adirondack Public Observatory founding board, along with Jeff Miller (pictured with her), also of the physics department. O’Donoghue teaches astronomy-related courses in SOAR, an enrichment program for retirees; “I want to bring understanding of the sky to everyone I can,” she explained. This desire also motivates her to “chat about the sky” on North Country Public Radio.
Alexander Daly ’10
SLU Buddies (co-treasurer); Classroom Aide, Brasher Falls Middle School
“I get a great deal of enjoyment from knowing I am facilitating a program that allows children to learn and grow in a safe and fun environment outside the classroom,” says Daly, of Sudbury, Mass. He volunteers at a school about 25 miles from Canton, and also plans and chaperones special activities such as carnivals and hockey nights that widen the scope of the Buddies program, which pairs SLU students with local at-risk children.
Tom Coakley, Vice President of Administrative Operations
Canton/Potsdam Hospital Board; St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee; Canton College Foundation Board
“There may be no greater challenge than running rural hospitals in New York State,” says Coakley. “Our four colleges depend critically on a strong health care infrastructure. They also rely on a positive business environment that is augmented by the county Chamber.” One of his colleagues on the hospital board is Vice President for Finance Kathryn Mullaney.
|Danielle Rhubart ’10
NYSARC (services for citizens with mental disabilities), Akwesasne Boys and Girls Club, The Next Step, Canton United Methodist Church Free-Will Dinners, Community Mentor for the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, Birdsfoot Organic Farm Volunteer
A love for the North Country inspires Danielle Rhubart’10, of Deferiet, N.Y., near Watertown, to take volunteering “to the next level” by assisting other students in ensuring that their community service experiences are “as fulfilling as possible.” She is developing an outreach program, The Next Step, to pair St. Lawrence students with high school students to help those students achieve future goals such as post-secondary education or vocational training. Her numerous other experiences “have increased the depth of my passion for the North Country,” she says. “I’ve realized how important it is that I apply the knowledge I am gaining to active civic engagement in an area that I proudly call home.”
|David Hornung, Dana Professor of Biology
Hospice of Northern New York board, local hospital ethics boards, Stimulating Opportunities After Retirement (SOAR), Habitat for Humanity
“I feel we have an obligation to reach out to the community in which we live,” says Hornung. “The interaction is a two-way street: we have lots to offer people outside the University, and they have much to offer us.” Hornung’s interest in medical ethics provides the foundation for his civic engagement. His first-year courses work at “getting SLU students and local residents talking” through health education projects that encourage peer learning and through collaborative work with the SOAR program (pictured), he explains.
David Geleta, Associate Director, Dining and Conference Services
Church and Community Program (C&CP) Board
Geleta works with representatives from seven Canton churches to provide monetary and non-monetary assistance to local individuals and families in need. Services include the Vegetable Garden Project, which provides seeds and plants to low-income area families to supplement food dollars; the School Supply Project, which provides basic school supplies to approximately 200 children; and Free-Will Dinner Food Bags. Geleta says he is “especially proud” of St. Lawrence students’ participation in C&CP projects, adding, “I don’t think they realize how valuable their contributions are to us, and, more important, how many lives are touched by their generosity.”
|Gloria Weldon, Assistant Manager, Dining and Conference Services
Air National Guard, VFW, American Legion
Weldon actively supports U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as local veterans. Elected as one of few female post commanders in the state, she has earned the distinguished title of allstate commander through her work with the VFW and community service projects including Voice of Democracy, flag education and citizenship awards. “It is important for our younger servicemen and women to continue the mission of ‘honoring the dead by helping the living,’” says Weldon.
|Brijlal Chaudari ’10; Cindy Atkins, Director, Dining and Conference Services; Joey Webb ’09; Rachael Jaffe ’10
Habitat for Humanity
Chaudari, of Nichuta, Nepal, is co-president of the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity (H4H); he describes his work as “hammering the nails to make a difference in someone’s life.” Chaudari, co-president Jaffe, Evanston, Ill., and former president Webb, Pleasant Grove, Utah, help raise awareness and funding for H4H while also building houses. Annual spring break trips have led H4H members to South Carolina and Virginia. Co-advisor Atkins, who is also president of Raquette Valley Habitat for Humanity and a Literacy Volunteer, says, “My life is more enriched because of the experiences I have had working with this organization, the people in the community and the students who also enjoy helping others.”
|Ed Harcourt, Assistant Professor of Computer Science
Volunteer Firefighter, Colton, N.Y.
“Helping people is part of what living in a small community is all about,” says Harcourt. The 911 fire and rescue infrastructure in St. Lawrence County is almost entirely volunteer-based and is always in need of more volunteers, he says. Their commitment involves over 100 hours of training. Harcourt adds, “We’ll all need to dial 911 one day, and when we do, we’ll expect someone to show up to help. That someone is us.”
Jim Michaels, Assistant Director of Parent
and Leadership Giving
President of the Board, Frederic Remington Art Museum
The museum holds “the largest collection of Canton native Remington’s art and archival materials in the world” and the primary goal of the board is to “preserve, expand and display it,” says Michaels. “The museum (offers) an ever-increasing mix of art, educational and historical programs. We join the other fine cultural institutions that enhance the quality of life in the North Country.”
|Kelly Saelak ’08
Math/Reading Tutor in Local Schools
Work with SLU Buddies plus an education minor led Saelak, of Moreno Valley, Cal., to pursue her interests in working one-on-one with disabled students. Expressing her appreciation for SLU students’ civic engagement of this type, she comments, “We get hooked on the idea of playing with someone whose imagination reminds us of our own when we were that age, it humbles our perspective on the teenage years, and it makes us appreciate the simplicity of just ‘being there’ when needed.”
|Krista Snizek ’08
Renewal House Volunteer
Working with the SLU Advocates gave Snizek, of Vermontville, N.Y., an awareness of sexual assault and relationship violence that transformed into volunteer work at Renewal House, St. Lawrence County’s only domestic violence shelter. Snizek works primarily with children who have been exposed to domestic violence and volunteers for the shelter’s on-call hotline. “I do arts and crafts with the children, and we make snacks,” says Snizek. “This allows them to be kids while learning to work together and share responsibilities, but it’s also a place for them to express their thoughts and feelings in a safe, creative environment.”
|James Mattice, Co-CIO, Information Technology, and Director, Network Technologies
Youth Coaching; Canton Pee Wee Association Board
“Coaching youth sports has been a great experience for me,” says Mattice. “At these younger ages, it’s more about the kids having fun. The father of two began coaching hockey, lacrosse, baseball and soccer when his son Jacob started playing youth sports in 2004. “I like seeing the kids outside of sports and having a nice conversation about how they are doing and what they are up to,” he says.
Rachel Lim ’09
SLU Buddies; Don’t Take My Lunch Money!; SLU Rotaract (president); county Department of Social Services Supervised Visitation program; teacher’s aide, Canton elementary school
The common thread through Rachel Lim’s community involvement is the betterment of the lives of children. Lim, of Walnut, Cal., gives presentations on bullying for local elementary students with the “Don’t Take My Lunch Money!” program. She hopes to work with international NGOs to advocate education and health care for children in poverty.
“All the stress and pressure of my class work disappears when I am helping a child work on his math problems, or hearing about someone’s recent fight with her siblings,” she explains. “While this is supposed to help the children, I feel like I am getting even more benefits: hugs, friendship, wet kisses, smiles, funny anecdotes, experience and love all in one visit.”
|Jackie Viener Sauter ’71, Program Director, North Country Public Radio
St. Lawrence NYSARC Board; Chairperson, Family Support Services Council of the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
“Our North Country institutions and organizations are small and on the human scale; they need the time, talent and energy of every citizen,” says Sauter. Because one of her children has Down syndrome, Sauter began volunteering in local schools to support the development of services for all students with special needs. “It’s been a thrill to see how the work we do as volunteers can really make a difference,” she observes. “I feel fortunate to be able to share, to give back to the place in which I live and to my neighbors and friends.”
Stephanie Resavage ’09
Foundation for Community Betterment
Experience in Washington, D.C., with a non-profit organization inspired Resavage, of Rochester, N.Y., to bring a new form of civic engagement to St. Lawrence. The Foundation for Community Betterment (www.communitybetterment.org), established in 2000 by former trustee Jennifer Curley Reichert ’90 and others, chooses recipients based on a “ripple effect”: the likelihood that they will benefit their own community as Betterment has benefited them. Resavage worked with her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, to plan a Las Vegas Casino Night to benefit a fund for outerwear “so children in the North Country are adequately prepared for our harsh winters.”
|Ann H. Sullivan and Elaine White
Grasse River Heritage Board
“The development of Heritage Park facilities on Canton’s Grasse River islands is a favorite project because it is preserving a part of Canton history,” says White (right). Sullivan says it is important to support the GRH’s “evolving vision” for the islands and riverfront area as a “central part of the revitalization of downtown Canton.” Sullivan is also a member of the Remington Art Museum Development Committee after serving nine years as a trustee. “If I can help others understand what a national treasure resides here and gain support for this venture, then I think I have spent my time well,” she comments.
|Courtney Tennant ’10 and Reed Laverack ’10
Food Bank volunteers through SLU ACT!; PEACE Club
As president of SLU ACT!, Tennant (pictured), of Hood River, Ore., works at a local food bank, organizing the food-packing area, bagging food and arranging for other St. Lawrence students to volunteer. Laverack, of Holderness, N.H., is also involved with the food bank through his work with the PEACE (Promoting Equality and Compassion on Earth) Club, a new organization designed to “spread peace locally.” Laverack says any funds the PEACE Club raises will benefit the food bank. “SLU students assemble nearly 1,200 bags of food a year,” explains Tennant. “I love doing this. It’s very rewarding when you know how many people you are helping!”
“One of the main reasons I joined Alpha Tau Omega is because the brothers give back to the community on a constant basis,” says ATO President Luke Tobin ’09 (pictured), of Paul Smiths, N.Y. Among the fraternity’s service projects:
Bowling for Kids’ Sake to benefit the Big Brother/Big Sisters organization; an annual Halloween haunted house; multiple food drives; and the annual Cystic Fibrosis Fund-Raising Campaign to raise money for the Lungs for Life Foundation. According to Tobin, in a recent year ATO made the largest single donation ever received to that time by Lungs for Life. “Any brother will tell you that community service is a lot of fun, especially when you are doing it with your friends,” Tobin says.
|Jake Treptow ’10, Matt Millard ’09, Adam Robert ’09
Resource Room Volunteers, Salmon River Central High School
“We are inspired to better the quality of life in the North Country because we are from the St. Lawrence Valley,” says Robert (at head of table), of Fort Covington, N.Y. He, Treptow, right (who is also from Fort Covington) and Millard, second from left, of Maitland, Ont., volunteer twice a week through St. Lawrence’s Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership, working with Salmon River Central students who need help with academic subjects. Robert adds, “We chose Salmon River because Jake and I are graduates and we would like to give something back to the place that gave us so much. When Matt heard the idea he immediately wanted to be a part of it.”
|Sam Vandervelde, Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Elementary School Math Circle
Vandervelde and his wife, Eunice Cheung, co-coordinate the Lawrence Avenue Elementary Math Circle in Potsdam, N.Y. This after-school program helps approximately 20 K-2 students develop skills during an “engaging hour of mathematical exploration,” according to Vandervelde. He says, “I feel it is important to give involve children in an exciting, dynamic mathematical experience, which is typically difficult to achieve in the classroom.” Activities, designed to complement schoolwork, have included simplified Sudoku and learning negative numbers via Pokémon battles.