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Stepping Up to Help People in Need

Students Pursue Civic Engagement, One Project at a Time

January 21, 2008

By Debra Cano Ramos

Cal State Fullerton encourages student service with a wide variety of community service opportunities. Funded through grants and community donations, some the programs and projects for 2006-07 are below, compiled by the Center for Internships & Service Learning for the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This is a national program that recognizes colleges and universities that encourage and support student service activities.

Camp Titan and the CSUF Special Games - Kathleen E. Faley Memorial
Disabled and underprivileged youth benefit from these two ongoing programs, which are organized by students. In 2006-07, 360 students gave Camp Titan and the special games 14,700 hours of service.

Offered since 1969 and staffed by 50 student volunteer counselors, Camp Titan is a weeklong summer camp in the San Bernardino Mountains that introduces 150 underprivileged campers to nature. Children, ages 7-14, from throughout Orange County participate in nature and craft programs, swimming, hiking, canoeing and much more. All of the costs for the camp are covered through student fees, Greek Week activities, donations and campus collection boxes. Camp Titan is a nonprofit program, founded by students in 1969, and sponsored by Associated Students Inc.

Established as a class project in 1986, the CSUF Special Games-Kathleen E. Faley Memorial are held each spring. Students and community volunteers assist and encourage developmentally disabled youth participating in such activities as the basketball and football toss, wheelchair races, T-ball, soccer goal kicks and 50-yard dash. This spring, 2,400 athletes and 3,500 campus and community volunteers participated in this program, which is a partnership between Disabled Student Services and the Faley family, said Paul Miller, director of Disabled Student Services.

Freshman Future Teachers
Freshman Programs learning communities focus on facilitating a smooth transition to university life while also developing and defining personal leadership skills of incoming first time freshmen. The program connects students to faculty and peers, campus resources and opportunities for individual and community development.

Students enroll in linked general education classes and select one of several learning communities organized by theme, major or career goal. Each learning community includes a service-learning component geared to its major or theme.

One of the learning communities is Freshman Future Teachers, geared for students considering teaching careers. Students in this community have a service-learning component designed to provide exploratory field experiences essential to prospective teachers.

In 2006-07, 97 students launched their preparation for teaching careers by serving a combined 2,910 hours in local classrooms as teachers’ assistants, tutors and aides, said Maruth Figueroa, coordinator of Freshman Programs.

Project SHINE
In 2006-07, 115 students performed 2,292 hours of service-learning through Project SHINE, a program in which students enrolled in sociology, TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), education or language courses serve as English tutors in community settings.

Many of the students are the first in their families to attend college. While paired with English learners through SHINE, they connect with people in circumstances very similar to their own, adding that even when matched with individuals of different cultural backgrounds than their own, the similarities in life stories make natural bridges, said Dawn Macy, associate director of the Center for Internships & Service-Learning who manages the program. Students and learners connect through sharing meals, playing games, studying for the citizenship exam, reading newspapers and discussing current events. This program recently was honored with a U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Flying Samaritans
The Cal State Fullerton/UC Riverside chapter of Flying Samaritans International provides free medical care to a small community in El Hongo, Mexico, where there is no hospital and the closest emergency care is an hour away.

During the 2006-07 academic year, 156 Fullerton students performed 1,872 hours of community service through Flying Samaritans, including conducting 12 clinics in which they worked with children, the elderly, and people with diabetes. Flying Samaritans International is a nonsectarian, nonprofit organization that has been providing free health care services and education to Baja California for more than 40 years.

Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week
Orange County has an estimated 35,000 homeless people, including 25,000 families and 16,000 children, according to county statistics. In order to raise awareness and engage the campus community in service and advocacy, the Volunteer & Service Center (VSC) hosted National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week in November.

Students conducted a food and donation drive, distributed information and resources, and developed innovative programming to capture attention and demand for action. One highlight of the fall event was a “Living Exhibit” where student volunteers held handmade cardboard signs with facts, figures and quotes that debunk stereotypes about homelessness and hunger in the local and global communities.

Homeless children also visited the campus to experience what it’s like to go to college. Last year's efforts netted a 535 percent increase in food donations and 383 percent increase in funds raised over 2005 and many students signed up for future volunteer activities. Additionally, 51 Cal State Fullerton students performed 590 hours of community service.

Jumpstart, an AmeriCorps program offered through the Center for Internships & Service-Learning, engages child and adolescent studies majors as preschool tutors at schools in local, low-income communities. In 2006-07, the program engaged 53 student members who served a minimum of 30 hours each for more than 15,000 hours of service.

Cal State Fullerton’s student diversity is a major asset to Jumpstart, offered through the Center for Internships & Service-Learning. The program is designed to give children a strong foundation of language and literacy skills. Many of the university's students are first-generation college attendees and grew up in homes where English was not the primary language, and therefore, are not only mentors and tutors, but also role models to Jumpstart children. The program received a $69,832 Jumpstart for Young Children Inc. grant to continue in 2007-08.

Orange County AmeriCorps Alliance
During fall 2006 and spring 2007, the Orange County AmeriCorps Alliance (OCAA), offered through the Center for Internships & Service-Learning, worked with 14 partner agencies at 20 elementary school sites with quality after-school programming for students in grades K-9. Fifty-five Cal State Fullerton students performed 55,545 hours of community service.

The partnership allows for coordination of recruitment, training, placement, testing, evaluation and supervision among sites and members in an effort to help at-risk youth succeed academically and to build resiliency to adverse risk factors through character development, physical education and academic tutoring. Each site offers tutoring, mentoring, physical education, leadership and citizenship programs.
The Mentoring Network Program for Student Success
The Mentoring Network Program for Student Success (MNPSS) seeks to improve the rate at which at-risk youth graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary education. Through the use of a peer mentor network, at-risk students at local high schools build self-esteem, acquire greater commitment to academic success and expand their career aspirations by interacting with Cal State Fullerton students who serve as their mentors.

Community leaders provide additional enrichment by sharing their expertise and experience in their professions with both mentees and mentors. These resources serve as a “safety net” for at-risk youth who are often alienated from others and lack adequate support networks to encourage high aspirations, said John F. Reid, Jr., Student Diversity Program coordinator.

During 2006-07, mentors visited eight local junior high and high schools and planned a series of events on campus, including presentations by Fullerton students and faculty members, professionals and others are sources of inspiration and encouragement. In 2006-07, 26 students performed 906 hours of community service through this program.

Titan Outreach
During the 2006-07 academic year, 50 students put in a combined 8,300 hours of community service through Titan Choices, Titan Outreach Delegates (TOD Squad), Titan Transfer Peers, Early Titan Outreach Program (ETOP) and the Early Assessment Program.

The main objective is to disseminate information about the benefits of higher education to all high school students, and what they need to do to be college-eligible.

Since many of Cal State Fullerton’s students are first-generation college attendees, and in many cases, first-generation high school graduates, the peer-to-peer aspect of the outreach is especially powerful, said Dawn Valencia, director of University Outreach.
Project Read
In 1997, a Cal State Fullerton student established Project Read to teach homeless children the love of reading. Today, student leaders in the university¹s Volunteer & Service Center coordinate the program and are among the committed volunteers who meet with children one-on-one every week for two hours helping with homework, reading storybooks and playing reading games to promote literacy and an enthusiasm for reading.

“Through these weekly visits, the children come to recognize that despite the obstacles they may be facing, they absolutely have the potential to be successful in school and to pursue their dreams,” said Amy Mattern, coordinator of the Volunteer & Service Center. During 2006-07, 152 university students served 442 hours through Project Read.


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