GENESEO, N.Y. -- SUNY Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl joined Livingston County CARES recently for the group's 16th trip to the Biloxi, Miss., area to repair homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It was the president's first work trip with the organization, a non-profit group of Geneseo students and community members dedicated to local and global humanitarian projects. For President Dahl, it also was a homecoming.
"When I was sophomore at Harvard in the 60s, a group of classmates and I went to the same part of Mississippi during spring break and worked with the Back Bay Mission to repair homes in low-income areas," said Dahl. "It was very interesting to be back there again with students. I returned to Back Bay and saw that the organization is still working hard on issues of social justice and poverty reduction."
After Hurricane Katrina, the Livingston County Board of Supervisors established a relationship with its counterpart in Harrison County, Mississippi, to assist with relief and recovery efforts. SUNY Geneseo organized Livingston County CARES through its Center for Community, which emphasizes the vital link between service and leadership.
"It's very important for students to recognize and understand that active volunteerism and service are vital components for students to become effective leaders," said Tom Matthews, director of leadership education, development and training at SUNY Geneseo. "Students who go on these work trips quickly realize they are making a positive impact on people's lives."
President Dahl spent several days working on damaged houses and praised the group's commitment.
"It was impressive seeing students working beside community members," said President Dahl. "Everyone realized they were there to do the serious work of helping people recover and that attitude was highly gratifying. They realize their work is not just a one-time, in-and-out effort. This group is dedicated to returning to this area until the work is done," he said.
Livingston County CARES has planned additional works trips to Mississippi in February, March and May and also is expanding its local volunteer efforts. For opportunities with the organization, call 585-245-5857.
President Dahl discusses the Livingston County CARES outreach program in Mississippi.
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