Maryville Dedicates Day to Community Outreach
More than 900 representatives of Maryville University, including President Mark Lombardi, radiated throughout St. Louis and St. Louis County on Sept. 9 for “Maryville Reaches Out,” a day was devoted to volunteer service. Day classes were canceled in support of the first-time initiative.
Maryville students, faculty, staff and alumni assisted a broad roster of more than 75 local agencies. Projects included painting and outdoor clean-up efforts for neighborhood homes, charitable organizations and museums such as Laumeier Sculpture Park; office help, organizing and sorting donations for agencies such as St. Louis Food Bank; and tutoring, craft projects and musical events for both young children and older adults.
“We were delighted to have Maryville University volunteers join in the front line against hunger, the group was wonderful,” said Sunny Schaefer, executive director of Operation Food Search. “They accomplished a great deal. In fact, we were worried that we would run out of things for them to do when we saw how they jumped in and got things done.”
Schaefer noted that volunteers send a powerful message to the community and to the people OFS seeks to help. She estimated that volunteer work saves her organization $180,000 in labor costs, freeing those dollars for use in program services.
Geralyn M. Frandsen, Ed.D., R.N., nursing professor and director of Maryville’s Gerontology Certificate Program, worked with a group at The Women’s Safe House. The seven volunteers landscaped and did outdoor clean-up jobs, an experience that was valuable on many levels, she said, but particularly in regard to awareness.
“The students were able to speak with a woman who will deliver a baby soon. It puts a face on the difficulty of domestic abuse,” Frandsen said. “They could see how important this agency is in assisting the women and families of abuse.”
Kayla Scego, a freshman studying business administration, served as team leader at Neighborhood Houses, which offers neighborhood-centered programs for youth. Volunteers played games with young children and helped with data-entry tasks.
“The time we spent there opened our eyes to the needs of people who are less fortunate than we are,” Scego said, adding that, “It’s a good idea to make this a campus-wide project so everyone gets involved.”
Hillary Haase, a freshman occupational therapy student, worked at the Family Support Network, an agency that helps to prevent child abuse and neglect through family therapy. Haase said her team first helped the agency prepare for, then host, a well-attended press conference about “Proposition 1 – Putting Kids First.” A Franklin County, Mo., initiative, the proposition seeks approval for a sales tax levy to fund children’s services. Along with learning about the proposition in detail, Haase learned about the power of grassroots activism.
“It showed me how much influence the community really can have when they support these kinds of things,” she said.
“‘Maryville Reaches Out’ exemplified Maryville’s commitment to integrate civic engagement with academic pursuits, and promote social responsibility and community service as a way of life,” said Stephen DiSalvo, M. Ed., M. Div., who coordinated the event. DiSalvo is director of campus ministry and community service.
Sewing projects, food preparation and other activities were hosted on campus for employees and students who could not travel to other locations. Alternate dates are set for some service activities to accommodate students and employees who are not able to participate on Sept. 9.
Maryville University, founded in 1872, is a four-year, private university located in west St. Louis County. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges in the Midwest, Maryville University students may choose from 50 academic programs, including degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. Among recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. More than 15,000 Maryville alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.