The Saints’ Center for Service officially opened in fall 2018. Born out of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), the Saints’ Center for Service is a central resource for information, relationships, and community partners for service.
“The real purpose for this center is to increase the number of students participating in meaningful service,” said Kelly Dalton, PhD, RDN the Director of the Saints' Center for Service. “If we truly want to make a positive impact on the world, we need informed action. We need to understand the historical and social context to get to the root of the problem instead of just an immediate fix.”
The Saints’ Center for Service does this by making connections with community partners and building a web of support so that students feel empowered to become active citizens. The center encourages students to consider how to connect their interests and service to their personal and academic lives as well as their skill sets, and to look at service as something integral to their life, not separate.
“Service is everywhere at Marymount,” Dalton said. “We want students to start asking how their actions can affect social change.”
Indeed, service is a big part of the Marymount experience. Collectively, Marymount students engage in 16,000 hours of community service each year.
“Marymount has created a solid foundation where meaningful service is a priority,” said Courtney McCrimmon, Graduate Assistant for the center. “Not only does this university promote this idea, but they also understand the importance of it. I believe the Saints’ Center for Service is a positive representation of Marymount’s core values and public stance on serving others through all areas of life.”
Marymount also offers two $5,000 Community Engagement grants, which this year were awarded to Margaret Tseng, professor and department chair of the History and Politics department, and Ioana Marcus, associate professor and director of the Clinical Mental Health department. For Tseng’s grant, she proposed to partner the university with the Blue Ribbon Project (BRP) to provide supplies and funds that support foster children. Marcus’s grant allowed counseling graduate students to work with horses doing therapeutic riding sessions, engaging several non-profits to work with women post-incarceration, and supporting veterans, individuals with disabilities, and women undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
Another part of Marymount’s tradition of service, there are twenty Spirit of Service scholars currently at Marymount, who are committed to 60 hours of volunteer work each semester. Additionally, Marymount offers service learning courses. Staff at the Saints’ Center for Service hope to grow and support faculty service and increase the number of service learning courses. Groups on campus have even been recognized for their consistent service, such as the Women’s Lacrosse team, which received the “Distinguished Community Service Award” from Volunteer Arlington for three years of volunteer work with the Arlington Housing Community.
The Saints’ Center for Service seeks to improve upon the campus’s already solid foundation of service.
“I want the Saints’ Center for Service to be a centralized location for students and faculty to find ways to get engaged in the community,” said McCrimmon. “I also want this center to be a space for us to build strong relationships with community partners and establish ways to create and maintain meaningful acts of service.”
On October 2nd, the center held a launch party with several community partners. This event also highlights the many partners the center is bringing together across athletics, the community, and the faculty.
“We had our first launch event, with such an amazing turn out,” said Pauline Sarpong, MU Work Scholar for the Center. “Students were able talk and educate themselves about service opportunities around Arlington. So many students have reached out to us trying get involved in the community. I can’t wait for what our team will have in store for the rest of year. This is only the beginning.”
Over 200 students attended the launch event and connected with participants, which included:
Community Residences, Volunteer Arlington, Sunrise Nursing Home, Arlington Housing Corporation (AHC), Arlington Thrive, Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), Arlington Street People's Assistance Network (A-SPAN), Arlington Neighborhood Village, Bridges to Independence, Wesley Housing, MU Dreamers, Dr. Susan Agolini and the Food for Thought Club, Dr. Todd Rimkus and the Belize Service Club, Dr. Matt Shadle and Faculty Service Learning, Dr. Skye Donovan and Go Baby Go, Dr. Eric Bubar and Engage, Women's Lacrosse, Men's Basketball, Men's Swimming, Campus Ministry, Student Health Center, and MU Spirit of Service Scholars.
“What does this office mean to me?” Sarpong asked. “Encouraging students to get involved in meaningful service. Doing something bigger than themselves. It’s so much more than just a requirement for a club or sports teams. It’s seeing the impact and the difference you’ve made in the world. You’re actually changing lives.”