“Selflessness is one of the biggest keys to finding fulfillment.” First-year student Edgar Otero, a community service intern (CSI) at For the Good, made this comment at the Community Outreach & Opportunity Project (COOP) annual community service breakfast last month. His words summarized the sentiments expressed by all the morning’s student presenters, each of whom was engaged with a Clinton- or Utica-based nonprofit organization.
The breakfast, the largest yet in its seven-year history, is held to allow volunteers and organizations involved with the COOP to share their stories and celebrate their accomplishments.
The COOP CSI program enables students with an interest in community service to work in a paid internship in a nonprofit organization over their first four semesters. Here are some of the reflections expressed by the student CSIs and their supervisors at the event.
- Maggie Horne described her work with children with autism at BOCES and the rewards of finding “creative ways to teach. It has shown me that I really want to teach. I had the opportunity to work with so many students with so many different needs.”
- Pascal Dafinis ’19 and Andres “Fluffy” Aguilar ’19, both volunteers at the Underground Café, talked about how “awesome” it was to work with the students and engage with “their creative minds.” They pointed to the fact that most of the students rarely get one-on-one attention and that is what the two volunteers could provide. They also helped with the website and social media, played basketball and ping pong and did crafts with the students.
- “He has added a quality of life for our students and staff,” said United Cerebral Palsy supervisor about intern Jack Wright ’19, who compiled and analyzed a skills and vocational interest database and assessment tool and also interacted with students there.
- “One of the most rewarding experiences has been to help students with resumes and then to find out that they got jobs,” said Jackie Bussgang ’19, On Point for College intern.
As the event concluded, Dean of Students Nancy Thompson reflected, “Every year at this breakfast it’s just proof that the decision to start this program was right. It makes me proud to be part of Hamilton. It is absolutely transformative.”