Huntingdon receives national recognition for community service for second consecutive year
Montgomery, Ala.—For the second consecutive year, Huntingdon College has been selected to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The awards program cited work done by Huntingdon students, faculty and staff during the 2010–2011 academic year with Common Ground Ministries, the Family Sunshine Center, FocusFirst, SaveFirst, the Adapted Sport Day program, Special Olympics, the Montgomery Humane Society, Operation Christmas Child, Montgomery Food Bank, MANE, Martin Luther King Great Day of Service, and tutoring in elementary schools, among a wide range of service performed last year, contributing to more than 8,000 reported community service hours.
From their first weekend on campus, new first-year students were encouraged to be involved in community service. More than 150 members of the freshman class volunteered with various local causes, including Common Ground Ministries and the Family Sunshine Center. These service opportunities were sponsored and organized initially through the Huntingdon Office of Community Service. Various organizations and groups on campus continued to sponsor community service events throughout the year. Members of Huntingdon’s Commuter Student Organization served at the Montgomery Humane Society and volunteered with Operation Christmas Child. The Black Student Union offered campus-wide programs during Black History Month and served at Common Ground Ministries. Campus Ministries worked with Common Ground, as well as a homeless shelter and the local food bank. Physics and physical science students traveled to local daycare facilities to assist in vision screening through FocusFirst, a project of Impact Alabama, screening more than 100 children for early sight problems, cataracts, eye cancer, and astigmatism. Students in two New Testament classes volunteered five community service hours each during the semester, resulting in 120 students volunteering more than 600 hours with Common Ground Ministries during the spring. Huntingdon students were instrumental in conducting services for young people who have both physical and mental disabilities at Montgomery Area Non-traditional Equestrians (MANE), where they assisted young people (most of whom cannot walk unassisted) in riding horses, thereby replicating the movements and stimulating similar brain receptors as those used for walking. For the Martin Luther King Great Day of Service 2011, approximately 22 students, faculty, and staff participated in an endeavor to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama, and then volunteered their time at Common Ground.
Three projects, in particular, were highlighted in the Honor Roll recognition: Huntingdon's Adapted Sport Day program through the Department of Sport Science and Physical Education; tutoring by students in the Department of Teacher Certification; and the SaveFirst initiative by students in the Accounting Club and Department of Business Administration.
Students in Huntingdon’s Adapted Physical Education course, along with Dr. Lisa Olenik Dorman, professor of sport science and physical education, continued the Adapted Sport Day program they began with Brewbaker Junior High special education students three years ago, adding a partnership with Lee High School’s special education program. Both the middle- and high-school programs provide educational services for students with special needs, incorporating functional academics with community integration. These programs teach students with special needs to learn, work, live, recreate, and socialize just as their non-disabled peers. Through the programs, special needs students are brought to the Huntingdon College campus five times a semester for Adapted Sport Day, where they are taught learning skills they can use for the rest of their lives. In addition to the partnership with local schools, Huntingdon College and the students from the Department of Sport Science and Physical Education (SSPE) hosted games on campus for eight Special Olympic teams as part of the State of Alabama Special Olympics Basketball Tournament. SSPE students were responsible for officiating, keeping score, keeping time for the games, and arranging the awards ceremonies. In April, SSPE students hosted the Iron Roll, the first-ever match-up between the wheelchair basketball teams of the University of Alabama and Auburn University.
During tax season, Huntingdon students and faculty sponsor Amy Hulsey, Huntingdon College instructor of accounting and CPA, donated their time as part of the SaveFirst program. Thirty Huntingdon volunteers completed training and earned the Basic IRS Certification to serve with the 2011 SaveFirst program. SaveFirst is a nationwide program that trains college, graduate, and law students to provide free tax preparation services and opportunities for savings and economic improvement to low-income, working families. Students serve these low-income families by preparing tax returns at no charge, helping families to secure the Earned Income Tax Credit refund to which most are entitled, but few have claimed in the past. The Huntingdon team served approximately 570 low-income families, helping them to secure nearly $1.5 million in tax refunds and saving them approximately $170,700 in commercial tax preparation fees in 2011. Statewide, the initiative involved 500 students from 11 campuses, assisting 4,300 low-to-middle-income families with $8.2 million in refunds and saving $1.2 million in commercial tax preparation fees. Huntingdon participated in the program again this year.
Finally, during the 2010–2011 academic year students in the Huntingdon elementary education and teacher certification programs served in Montgomery’s public schools as part of the service component of their curriculum. Students in Reading Methods classes gained experience by tutoring struggling readers and assisting classroom reading teachers at four local elementary schools. Secondary teacher certification students assisted teachers by working with small groups, grading papers, making copies, etc.; allowing their assigned teachers to meet individual students' needs. Huntingdon's education/teacher certification programs offer various opportunities throughout the academic year to serve outside of the classroom, primarily in the College's partnership with Bear Exploration Center magnet school. During the spring semester, 2011, 40 students from Bear came to the Huntingdon Campus for Celebrate Education Day, where they worked in classrooms on various projects, including working with science faculty to build rockets that they later launched on the Huntingdon College Green. Huntingdon students also assisted with Bear Math and Science Nights.
Huntingdon College has a 157-year commitment to nurturing growth in faith, wisdom, and service and to graduating individuals prepared to succeed in a rapidly changing world. The words, “Faith, Wisdom, Service,” appear on the College logo, encapsulating the College's motto, "Enter to grow in wisdom; go forth to apply wisdom in service," which is engraved in stone above the door of Huntingdon's historic Flowers Hall.