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Beaver campus student volunteers are on the rise

11/14/2008 —

This fall semester has seen an increase in Penn State Beaver student volunteers. A group of Penn State Beaver students, guided by Christina Winniewicz, external relations assistant in the Office of Development, established the first Blue and White Society ever hosted on campus. The society now has 44 members. In addition, 32 students also are serving as volunteers with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Beaver County. The program’s been growing on campus for years, but interest continues to mount. In October students gave up a Saturday to work on a Habitat for Humanity Build with members of the Beaver Valley Area Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association.

The Blue and White Society is the student membership of the Penn State Alumni Association, the largest dues-paying alumni association in the world. Blue and White Society members support the Alumni Association's service to the University and surrounding communities through Penn State pride, civic leadership, social service, volunteer projects, networking events and interaction with Penn State alumni in the community and around the world. Student membership fee is $15 per year.

Officers for the 2008-2009 Blue and White Society are Kevin Valentine, president, sophomore, Division of Undergraduate Studies; Jacqueline Matotek, vice president, junior, applied psychology, and Justin Harmon, treasurer, sophomore, business. A secretary will be announced soon.

This year, Big Brothers/Big Sisters (BB/BS) of Beaver County is providing one-to-one youth mentoring for more than 325 area children. More than 30 Penn State Beaver students (Bigs) are mentoring the children (Littles), ages 6 through 12.

A BB/BS staff member brings the children to Beaver campus where each Big spends about three hours per week with his/her Little by helping them study, play games, attend campus athletic events or just talk one-on-one in a quiet setting. All Beaver campus students must go through an interview process and must be approved by the BB/BS group to serve in the program.

Interest in the BB/BS program grows every year, according to Chris Rizzo, director of the Office of Student Affairs. The program has become part of the community service fabric at the campus, Rizzo said. "I've been very impressed by Ms. Quiana Hayes, the BB/BS mentor coordinator. Her passion seems to transfer to our students and they, in turn, engage other students. Through their relationships with the Littles, our students realize they’re doing something important, something bigger than themselves."

In October Beaver campus students spent a Saturday participating in a Habitat for Humanity Build in Aliquippa with Alumni Chapter members. Many of the student volunteers were members of the Beaver campus Business Club which encourages members to apply business knowledge, concepts and ideas to real-world, community projects.

"The students' interaction with us provides a great way to enhance relationships between them and our Alumni Chapter," said Eric McIntosh ’05. McIntosh, who was instrumental in organizing the Habitat project, is a member of the Alumni Chapter Board of Directors and a recruiter for UPMC International and Commercial Services.

"More importantly,” he continued, "these projects provide students with a tremendous opportunity to build relationships with potential employers while proving themselves to professionals who might be able to provide or help them with job opportunities after graduation. I’m always willing to help our campus students, and events like this Habitat build are a big reason for that."

For information about Beaver campus students’ involvement in the community, contact Jessica Jackson at jrj15@psu.edu or (724) 773-3947.

 

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