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Community Service Day Brings Hundreds of Students to Northeast DC

August 30, 2013 – Hundreds of Georgetown’s first-year and transfer students will spread out into some of the Washington, D.C.,'s neighborhoods most in need tomorrow to perform community service and learn about social justice issues in the city they’ll call home for the next four years.

More than 700 students are scheduled to participate in Community Service Day Aug. 31 at 15 sites as a part of Georgetown’s Ward 7 Initiative.

The initiative has provided educational support and health care services to students, families and schools in the Northeast section of the city for more than 30 years.

Vast Opportunities

“It’s a great way to learn about the greater D.C. area, make connections within the Georgetown and Ward 7 communities, and be exposed to the vast service opportunities available through the university,” says Mellie Corrigan (C’14), one of this year’s student coordinators for the day with Maurice McCaulley (SFS’16).

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is scheduled to attend Georgetown’s Community Service Day celebration barbeque at Kenilworth Elementary School tomorrow.

Georgetown’s Center for Social Justice, Research, Teaching and Service (CSJ) organized the day’s projects, which include building a community garden at Fairfax Village, assisting senior citizens with basic home projects at Carver 2000 Senior Mansion, neighborhood cleanups at Benning Terrace and Edson Place, and a river and park cleanup with Anacostia Watershed Society and Washington Parks and People.

Engaging Students

2013 SCS Community Service Day

New students at the School of Continuing Studies paint the exterior of the Asian and Pacific Islander Senior Center in downtown Washington, D.C., during the school's fall Community Service Day on Aug. 24.

“What’s great about Georgetown is that there are so many different access points for social justice work,” says Sarah Jones, CSJ special projects coordinator. “While we see a lot of students who will do a day of service with us, we also see many wind up getting engaged in our signature programs.”

Those programs include the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access] CMEA and the Institute for College Prep.

CSJ has organized Community Service Day for new students for the past 16 years, and a weeklong service experience called the First-Year Orientation to Community Involvement (FOCI) program since 1986.

More than 50 first-year students participated in FOCI from Aug. 19-24.

“A big part of the week is direct service opportunities,” says Erica Pincus, interim program coordinator for FOCI. “So what they do on a day-to-day basis is visit different service sites around the city. That could mean exposure to groups that target HIV and AIDS, education or hunger and homelessness.”

But Pincus also says the week is also about indirect service.

Social Justice introduction

“It’s an introduction to the social justice issues taking place in the city,” she explains. “It’s about seeing the broader issues that direct service projects help to address.”

Pincus served as a FOCI student leader for two years before graduating in May and joining the CSJ staff.

“I feel like the ways I was able to engage with the broader city through FOCI and also as a Georgetown student …  enriched my time here as a student and resident of Washington, D.C.,” she says.

Helping SCS Neighbors

Other schools at Georgetown also create community service opportunities for their students.

Last Saturday, for example, 40 new students from the School of Continuing Studies (SCS) joined the dean and his staff for a day of service at the Central Union Mission, a faith-based nonprofit social service agency.

The graduate students also helped out at the Asian and Pacific Islander Senior Center. Both are nonprofits that are neighbors to the new SCS location in downtown D.C.

“It’s a privilege to be able to volunteer,” Susan Zapolski (G’14), who is studying public relations and corporate communications at SCS. “The school is like a friendly neighbor who just moved in next door.”