Outreach programmes transforms lives at Excelsior Community College
Coordinator of the Excelsior Community College Social Outreach Programme, Marlene Campbell, says the 25-year-old programme has transformed the lives of thousands of students who participate in an array of voluntary activities over the years, which have benefited the dispossessed and organisations that are in need of charitable support.
Speaking Thursday night at the 25th Anniversary Silver Ball of the social outreach arm of the Excelsior Community College, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, Campbell told the gathering of volunteers that one of the institution's most ambitious objectives is to transform the Mountain View area into a 'college town' in which "each person become our civic responsibility".
The Social Outreach Programme started at the college in 1990 as a pilot exercise in the business department.
The success of the programme led to its rapid expansion to all the departments, with the exception of nursing.
Under the programme, students are required to volunteer 30 hours of service in a non-profit organisation.
In 2008, a project-based approach was introduced in which the students raised funds to finance a plethora of social outreach activities. The institution's major fundraiser is an annual lapathon, with the inaugural silver ball introduced this year to help boost the college's efforts at funding its outreach plans.
Since 2011, the programme has raised in excess of $3 million through its annual lapathon.
These funds are used to carry out selected social projects that have transformed the lives of their beneficiaries which include basic schools in the Mountain View area as well as organisations such as Mustard Seed Communities, Eve for Life, Dare to Care and Children First, among others.
This year the programme awarded scholarships to students attending the Mountain View and Excelsior primary schools; constructed a perimeter wall at the Reddie's Place of Safety; feeding the homeless at the Open Arms Drop-In Centre; upgrading a playground at the Solomon Levy Basic School and painting a cluster at The Golden Age Home in Vineyard Town.
"As they get involved, participants realise the value of their contribution to the community and the difference they make in the daily lives of others; they become more aware of the logistics of volunteerism and the effects of volunteerism on the efficient operation of organisations such as those which cater to the needs of the elderly as well as the physically and mentally challenged," Campbell told the gathering.
"Services students generally engage in are classroom assistants, working with pre school and primary school students; working with teens and adults; they work with seniors in the golden age homes; they work with children in the children's homes; working with people with disabilities, serving in hospitals and libraries. This amounts to thousands of man- hours per year in national development."