Scranton’s Scholars in Service Learn about Themselves by Helping Others
As another semester wraps up, nine University of Scranton students are putting the finishing touches on more than just classes. The AmeriCorps Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania are also closing out a year of community service projects and specialized service trips. These students, committed to the Jesuit tradition of being “men and women for others,” have been recognized by the Scholars in Service program for their dedication to and performance of 300 to 450 hours of service this year.
Individually, the students worked with local organizations such as the St. Joseph's Center, Scranton Habitat for Humanity, SMART mentoring program, Scranton Prep’s basketball team, STELLAR, St. Francis of Assisi Soup Kitchen, Goodwill GoodGuides mentoring program and EFFORT (Excess Food For Others Recovery Team).
As a group, they helped organize the annual Community Outreach Office’s Easter Eggstravaganza, which provides Easter baskets and other activities for area children.
In addition, over the course of the year, the Scholars in Service participated in Community Outreach Office-sponsored domestic service trips, including visiting Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the Father McKenna Center in Washington, D.C., the Providence Center in Philadelphia, Francis Corps in Syracuse, N.Y., and the Workfest/Christian Appalachian Project in Kentucky. Others went on a service trip to Georgia with Habitat for Humanity and one went on a trip to Cleveland, Ohio, with University Ministries. They helped with the Safe Trick or Treat in the residence halls, the Thanksgiving food basket drive and several Christmas gift drives.
Robert Cermignano ’14 of Ardmore worked closely with the Goodwill GoodGuides mentoring program and the Ronald McDonald House. A counseling and human services major, Cermignano first got involved with the youth mentoring program his freshman year. He was matched up with a boy, who is now a 13-year-old seventh-grader at South Scranton Intermediate and who Cermignano describes as “like a brother.”
The program is designed to foster opportunities for the mentee that they wouldn’t normally have access to. Cermignano says they spend about four to eight hours together a week, focusing on activities that develop the child’s “interests, hobbies, education and career goals.”
“It’s been a huge blessing for me as a mentor to watch (the child) grow, build confidence and gain self-awareness,” said Cermignano. “I have learned a lot about myself throughout this experience as well. It’s inspired me and helped me discover what I want to do in my life.”
Another Scholar in Service, Michelle Dougherty ’14 of Exton, focused her time on the St. Francis of Assisi Soup Kitchen, EFFORT and the Community Outreach Office’s End-of-the-Year Drive.
“I’ve always enjoyed volunteering, and I like using my time and talents to serve others,” said Dougherty. “It’s rewarding to learn about myself while learning about others.”
Dougherty says the experience that impacted her most was the opportunity to actually eat at the soup kitchen. Connecting with the patrons on a personal level and hearing their stories helped her realize how much she wants to care for people in her career, and continue to give back to the community around her.
Additional Scranton students who received the AmeriCorps Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania Award for the 2011-2012 academic year are: Gina-Lou Desplantes ’13 of Port Jervis, N.Y.; Nora Henry ’14 of Quincy, Mass.; Kady Luchetti ’12 of Plains; Kendrick Monestime ’12 of West Orange, N.J.; Timothy Plamondon ’14 of Blue Bell; Alyssa Thorley ’13 of Bethlehem; and Michael Wiencek ’12 of Fleetwood. This was the fourth consecutive year that University of Scranton students have been honored with this award.