FIRST Class of 2016 Arrivals Volunteer at Area Nonprofit Organizations
Members of the class of 2016 painted murals at a head start center, sorted items at a clothes pantry, and cleaned up along a river – while whitewater rafting – all before they started classes.
Forty-three members of The University of Scranton’s Class of 2016 arrived a week earlier than their classmates to participate in FIRST (Freshmen Involved in Reflective Service Together), a service immersion program now in its 10th year.
According to Pat Vaccaro, director of the Center for Service and Social Justice (formerly called the Community Outreach Office) at The University of Scranton, the FIRST program gives students a chance to experience some of the service options available to them in Scranton.
“I especially liked volunteering at the Jewish Home of Eastern Pennsylvania. It was inspirational, something I would like to do more often,” said Eleanore Dara ’16 of Shelby Township, Mich., who has loved her experience in Scranton so far. “I have been constantly surprised and impressed.” Dara, a biochemistry major, said she was attracted to Scranton because of its Jesuit identity and the enticement of working on research in the new Loyola Science Center.
This year, the students participating in FIRST volunteered at South Side II Head Start, the United Neighborhood Center’s Belleview Center, the Jewish Home of Eastern Pennsylvania, the Leahy Community Health and Family Center, St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen, St. Paul’s Church and St. Clare’s food pantry from Tuesday, Aug. 21, through Friday, Aug. 24. Each evening the students met as a group to reflect on themes of social justice and spirituality.
They also assisted their fellow classmates move into the University’s residence halls on Saturday, Aug. 25, and volunteered alongside more than a hundred of their classmates on Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Back to School Bonanza, at Lackawanna County Courthouse Square. The Back to School Bonanza was offered for the first time this year to area children, free of charge, and included educational games, prizes, refreshments, music and other activities. The event was organized by the University’s Center for Student Engagement in cooperation with the Center for Service and Social Justice, the Office of Community Relations and Lackawanna County.
Each year more than 2,850 University of Scranton students perform more than 175,000 service hours.