Student volunteers raking leaves (SUNY Geneseo Photo)
Geneseo Community Engagement is a new way to connect the resources at SUNY Geneseo with the needs of the community and vice versa. Combining the shared missions of several campus programs, GCE forges relationships between local residents and businesses and members of the SUNY Geneseo community.
“GCE exists to connect the rich resources of the SUNY Geneseo campus with the important needs and wide-ranging expertise of local community groups in order to allow for transformative experiences for all,” said Lytton Smith, director of the Center for Integrative Learning. “With nearly 6,000 students committed to attending a college whose mission is partly to inspire students to be socially responsible and globally aware citizens, we have launched Geneseo Community Engagement to create more individualized links between local organizations and expertise and interest on campus.”
GCE offers a portal with a simple-to-use form through which local groups can connect to Geneseo’s programs and offices by submitting a request for their upcoming needs, such as for volunteers, interns, service, employees, or specific areas of expertise. It also provides a similar interface through which students can articulate the ways they want to get involved locally.
“Most of our students come to us with significant experience volunteering in their hometowns, and are ready to give to their new home, “said David Parfitt, director of the Teaching and Learning Center. “The more fully they become engaged with the vital work happening in the surrounding counties, the more they learn what it is to serve the world at home and beyond.”
Lytton Smith, associate professor of English and creative writing, Dave Parfitt, who also serves as the director of the Institute for Community Well-being, and Garth Freeman, coordinator of Student Leadership, Volunteerism, and Service Office oversees GCE.
Through the GCE portal, local groups can communicate both one-off and ongoing projects in a variety of areas, from arts and culture to community, from environment/sustainability to education. Once an organization submits a form, the GCE team works to match the individual or group with the staff, faculty, and students in the best position to meet their needs.
GCE operates year-round; although the greatest student availability is during the Spring and Fall semesters, many students seek involvement with local organizations throughout the year. The team welcomes requests from organizations in and beyond the Genesee Valley; with students from across New York state, including a significant population from New York City and Long Island, Geneseo is committed to serving groups in the immediate vicinity and those whose needs might span further; students can also complete online-only community projects.
Students, staff, and faculty at Geneseo have already helped serve the community in myriad ways, from developing local businesses publicity strategies to creating oral histories of area senior citizens, from assisting low-income residents to complete their taxes to clearing surrounding land of invasive species. With an extensive history of Livingston CARES Service Learning Trips to sites such as Houston, TX; Biloxi, MS, and Puerto Rico, and through such courses as Real World Geneseo, sponsored by the Xerox Center for Multicultural Organization, in which students engage in local service learning projects, SUNY Geneseo has much to offer, and learn from, its regional partners. Forging relationships that matter is at the heart of Geneseo Community Engagement.