Moraine Valley faculty and staff give back to community

  • Written by Michelle Zalesny

Moraine Valley Community College faculty and staff volunteered their time and gave back to the community at the third annual Community Learning Day held on Oct. 4.

“For three years now, the college has done what we call Community Learning Day, and with the support of the college foundation, we go out into the community and give service back,” said Moraine Valley College President Dr. Sylvia Jenkins during the Nov. 15 board meeting.

Community Learning Day, an event partially sponsored by the Moraine Valley Community College Foundation, offers faculty and staff opportunities for civic engagement and the chance to build relationships with community organizations in an effort to learn more about those serving the community and students. This in turn can lead to service learning opportunities for students.

“The Foundation is so proud to provide the funding for Community Learning Day,” said Kristy McGreal, the Foundation’s executive director. “It’s so empowering to be a part of a day that impacts the lives of so many.”

More than 20-plus organizations partnered with the college and 256 faculty and staff volunteered for off-campus activities.

“There was a wide variety of organization. It was important for us to select and work with organizations that provide many different services either to the community or services for students,” said Dr. Cynthia Anderson, dean of Academic Development and Outreach, who presented the event’s outcome to the board.

Faculty and staff who volunteered spent the day either on campus or off campus at various locations, including: Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, Elsie’s Food Pantry, Greater Chicago Food Depository, My Joyful Heart, Sertoma Centre, Cook County Forest Preserves, Catholic Charities, St. Coletta’s of Illinois, and the Animal Welfare League.

Volunteer services ranged from renovation to putting hygiene and food packages together and clearing the woodlands. Those who remained on campus took part in helping English as a Second Language (ESL) students practice English-speaking skills, put cards and care boxes together for cancer patients while 206 faculty and staff attended panel discussions, discussing services for food and shelter, the community and students.

Faculty and staff who volunteered gushed about the impact of Community Learning Day.

“The day in itself was a great day for everybody,” said Anderson. “You feel good about what you’re doing no matter what it is whether you’re at the forest preserve or on campus, and you learn a lot about the different resources that the community provides and it gives the college the opportunity to give back.”

“To lend a helping hand, even if it’s just a day here or there, can make a difference in everyone’s life,” said Mary Beth Walsh, professor of Travel Business Management, Meeting Planning and Special Events. “It increases your awareness of the level of need that’s out there.”