October 23, 2010
Students and staff from Johnson State College provided a full day of service at the Lamoille Family Center on October 23, 2010. They redesigned the playground, cleaned moss-covered shingles on outbuildings, filled potholes in the parking lot, painted the front of the building, gave the fence surrounding the building a facelift, and more.
It was all part of a seminar for first-year students called "A Call to Action" taught by Ellen Hill, director of experiential learning at JSC. The course explores student activism around the world and strategies for active citizenship. The volunteer work itself is part of JSC's "Break Away" program of alternative spring breaks devoted to local, national and international community service.
Saying they wanted to "drive less and serve more," the eleven students brainstormed the service portion of the course and affectionately named the trip "Break Away MoVegas." They wore T-shirts emblazoned with theme throughout the day, which started with an orientation by Executive Director Scott Johnson. Johnson explained the history and mission of the Lamoille Family Center, which just celebrated its 35th year and served more than 1,500 children and families last year alone.
Volunteer Lauren Champagne commented that the experience "really opened my eyes to Family Center programs and how necessary they are in our communities. I feel really proud that I was able to help this organization knowing it would benefit so many people," she added. Reflecting on the work after the session, student Megan Benoit noted that "the thanks I'm receiving makes me happy about how I chose to spend my time this weekend."
Scott Johnson noted that "our day started with JSC students and Lamoille Family Center staff in a circle by making personal connections and ended in a circle by sharing reflections on our day together. In between, we leveled the driveway, painted the exterior of the building, made a playground safe and repaired the picket fence. The JSC students demonstrated both the importance and spirit of giving by volunteering at the Lamoille Family Center."
Stuart Senghas, coordinator of the Center's Supervised Child Access Program, shared that view. "The physical energy and action that the Break Away crew provided truly can be equated with love. To provide this type of manual labor that supports children and families that you may never actually meet shows an unconditional giving that is at the heart of true community service," he said.
The work at the center was an integral part of the course, because "A Call to Action" is designed to help students see their connections to their larger community and become active participants in our society, explained Hill. "Students and the center's staff seemed to get a lot out of it, the Family Center benefited from all the elbow grease, and we had a lot of fun," she noted. For more information about the service project or JSC's award-winning Break Away program, through which more than 1,000 students have participated in 102 service trips to as far away Vietnam since 1990, contact Hill at Ellen.firstname.lastname@example.org or 635-1439.