The Community Outreach & Outreach Project (COOP) hires senior fellows each year to help manage student volunteering projects in the Hamilton community and in the greater Utica area.
Amy James, director of COOP’s community outreach, started developing the fellowship program in the spring of 2010. The COOP had been expanding, and James recognized both a need for more help, and saw that some students had been heavily committed to the COOP throughout their time at Hamilton.
She decided to create a program that matched community demand with student interest, and since its inception, the fellowship has grown from including two students to five. James hopes that the fellowship will give “on-the-ground experience and help students interface with people” after graduation.
The 2017-18 senior fellows are Sophie Dizengoff, Sabrina Gattine, Eleni Neyland, Katherine Spano, and Hiromi Terai. Attending to logistical responsibilities such as arranging transportation and setting up volunteer opportunities, each fellow keeps a busy schedule.
As the community liaison, Dizengoff matches students and campus organizations looking for volunteer opportunities with sites looking for volunteers and also manages the COOP website. Having been a COOP Service Intern (CSI), Dizengoff has been involved with COOP since the summer before her first year at Hamilton.
During her time at Hamilton, she co-founded the Harvest program, where volunteers collect and package uneaten food at the college’s dining halls and distribute it to non-profit agencies that help reduce hunger in Utica. Dizengoff said her commitment to volunteering at Hamilton helped “ground” her and has been “incredible preparation for life,” influencing both her college experience and her future.
Gattine is the COOP Service Internship (CSI) coordinator and the Alternative Break director. For CSI, she schedules speakers for the students’ weekly meeting, arranges weekly activities, and listens in on site debriefs. As Alternative Break director, she organizes volunteer trips for school breaks, decides what students will go on the trips, and raises funds for the trips. Having been a CSI and doing a short-term intern program with COOP during her junior year, Gattine has also been heavily involved with COOP each of her four years at Hamilton.
While working as a CSI, she interned at the Johnson Park Center in Utica, a women’s shelter and long-term recovery center for women recovering from addiction. Gattine now hopes to go into a career that focuses on addiction assistance.
Neyland serves as the volunteer coordinator, bringing students and volunteer sites together, ensuring that each student can contribute to the community, and each site receives support. She started volunteering with Hamilton during the fall term of her first year, acting on the executive board of the Hamilton Association for Volunteering, Outreach, and Charity (HAVOC).
Neyland’s various roles with HAVOC helped prepare her for role as a senior fellow. She also co-founded Hamilton College Strong Girls, a service club that runs “athletic, after-school empowerment programs” for elementary school girls.
As education and sciences coordinator, Spano reaches out to local schools and works to bring their students to campus. On campus, the students participate in a variety of activities, mostly educational, and are encouraged to familiarize themselves with Hamilton and foster an interest in learning. She started volunteering on campus when she joined Study Buddies during her first year, dedicating herself to the “kids who might not like school, might need extra help, might not want to go to college, or might not have ever thought about going to college.”
Terai is the transportation coordinator, coordinating off-campus site visits for groups. She spends most of her time coordinating travel schedules and ensuring that everyone safely gets to their destination and back. Like other senior fellows, Terai started working with the COOP as a CSI during her first year and sophomore year. She’s been involved in other service organizations over the past four years, including Habitat for Humanity and Make a Difference Day.