Center for civic engagement engages students in community service

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By Richard Montemayor

The primary mission of this college’s center of civic engagement is to provide students the opportunity to do volunteer work within the community, civic engagement coordinator Mary Elise Ferrer said.

“Directing students toward organizations that could use their help for community service hours is vital to the learning experience that volunteer students gain from the center,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer also coordinates group activities for the students. “Sometimes, students are afraid. They say ‘well, I’d like to help out at Haven for Hope, but I don’t know who to contact’ so we will go as a group,” Ferrer said.

Students can sign up in Room 150 of Loftin Student Center to participate in an event, Ferrer said.

Usually 10 to 20 students volunteer for an event, Ferrer said. “We did an alternative spring break ‘stay-cation’ where I had close to 20 students, however that number dropped.”

Ferrer said some students only stayed for a day or half a day, but 14 students did the three days of service. “And for that, they each earned a Kindle Fire for their service.”

The center has hosted some in-office events, Ferrer said.

“Last semester, we made Christmas ornaments for Fisher House and Harbor Hospice, and this semester, we made Valentine cards for both of those organizations,” Ferrer said.

Fisher House Foundation is a national organization that benefits active military and veterans and their families by offering a network of homes where they can stay with no charge while their loved ones are receiving medical treatment.

Harbor Hospice is a national organization that provides in-home care to individuals who have been diagnosed with terminal illness but for whom there is no further treatment.

For students who don’t have time over the weekend or don’t have transportation, there is always some kind of event they can participate in on campus, Ferrer said.

Ferrer said the center replaces a service learning program that operated through faculty encouraging entire classes to donate service hours for various projects.

They ranged from taking oral histories at a nursing home to working at the San Antonio Food Bank.

Students who earned 100 service hours were recognized by the White House. When the grant funding was lost, student life established its program, Ferrer said

Volunteer opportunities this semester range from the 21st annual Basura Bash, cleaning up a portion of the San Antonio River to Pet’s Alive Walk, where a group goes to the adoption center at 210 Tuleta by the San Antonio Zoo to walk the dogs, Ferrer said.

For upcoming events and more, call Ferrer at 210-486-0157 or email


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