Lending a helping hand in the community

Community
Through Northeastern’s Husky Volunteer Team, students create positive change in the communities surrounding campus and form strong bonds with local organizations. Above, the students who volunteered at the Yawkey Boys & Girls Club in Roxbury. Courtesy photo.

 

While North­eastern stu­dent Stephanie Sil­veira was vol­un­teering at the John F. Kennedy Ele­men­tary School in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neigh­bor­hood this semester, a fourth-grader in her class­room approached her with a problem: The girl was scared to read her essay in front of the class. So Sil­veira calmly took her out­side and asked her to first read the essay aloud only to her.

“She needed that con­fi­dence to have someone tell her that her essay was good so she could read it in front of the class,” Sil­veira said.

This is just one example of how Sil­veira, a senior psy­chology major, has been making a dif­fer­ence in the com­mu­nity through Northeastern’s Husky Vol­un­teer Team. The pro­gram, which began in 2008 and is run through the Center of Com­mu­nity Ser­vice, pairs groups of stu­dents with com­mu­nity part­ners each semester. Groups typ­i­cally visit com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tions once a week to vol­un­teer in ways such as tutoring in after-school pro­grams with kids, vis­iting elderly res­i­dents and preparing and dis­trib­uting meals to the needy.

Through the pro­gram, stu­dents learn about social issues within Boston’s neigh­bor­hoods while also working toward cre­ating pos­i­tive change. Stu­dent involve­ment is also on the rise: 32 stu­dents par­tic­i­pated in the spring semester, and 51 joined in Summer I.

“Our stu­dents form strong bonds with these com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tions and often find ways to keep vol­un­teering there after their pro­grams end,” said Sydney Palinkas, a pro­gram assis­tant in the Center of Com­mu­nity Ser­vice who coor­di­nates the Husky Vol­un­teer Team. “It’s also a great way for stu­dents to meet new people on campus.”

Sil­veira agreed, adding that the pro­gram allows stu­dents to become engaged in the com­mu­ni­ties sur­rounding campus. She’s been a Husky Vol­un­teer Team member for at least one semester the last four years. Her first expe­ri­ence involved run­ning a health and nutri­tion group for girls at the Deer­born Middle School in Roxbury.

Josh Mav­ilia, a third-year crim­inal jus­tice major at North­eastern, just fin­ished his first semester as a team member. He vol­un­teered in the gym­na­sium at the Yawkey Boys & Girls Club in Rox­bury, where he and another North­eastern stu­dent helped run sports programs.

Mav­ilia, who plays intra­mural soccer at North­eastern and par­tic­i­pates in a men’s hockey league out­side the uni­ver­sity, worked with kids on base­ball hit­ting and fielding drills and helped intro­duce many of the youth to the game of soccer.

Mav­ilia also recalled poking his head into the Boys & Girls Club’s music room on one after­noon to wit­ness another Husky Vol­un­teer Team member helping kids play the piano and improve their singing skills.

“It’s been incred­ibly rewarding,” Mav­ilia said. “The Yawkey Club has been fan­tastic, and the kids are really grateful. It’s been great seeing them improve in their sports, too.”

The dead­line for North­eastern stu­dents to submit appli­ca­tions to become Husky Vol­un­teer Team mem­bers for the Summer II semester is Monday, June 25. Appli­ca­tions are avail­able on the Center of Com­mu­nity Service’s website.