Making a difference is essential to who we are.
At New College, we believe that community service develops the next generation of caring, active and aware citizens. Volunteerism has always been a priority here. More than half of all graduating seniors report that they have engaged in volunteer activities. Nearly one-quarter of them participate in tutoring, teaching and other educational activities with children during their time at New College.
The New College Service Learning and Volunteer Office, staffed by two Americorps VISTA staff members, connects Novo Collegians to the community by facilitating a wide array of service opportunities. They help students choose a place to volunteer, assist with making contacts there and organize transportation. If you are interested in volunteering in your community, the VISTA office will make it happen.
Americorps VISTA is the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty. Founded as Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) in 1965 and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993, VISTA has been on the front lines in the fight against poverty in America for more than 40 years. New College is one of only a few schools that have a VISTA program that overlaps with its curriculum.
Each year, more than 100 New College students participate in VISTA programming initiatives and perform over 2000 hours of service in VISTA-facilitated programs. VISTA programs collaborate with more than 30 community organizations, most of them in the Sarasota-Manatee area. Habitat for Humanity, Resurrection House for the homeless, the Boys & Girls Club and local schools are just a few of the places where New College students give selflessly of their time and attention.
The VISTA staff also organizes volunteer opportunities throughout the United States, including Alternative Fall and Spring Breaks and the national MLK Day of Service. Students provided relief to families traumatized by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and helped provide meals, clothing, food and shelter to migrant workers and their families in Immokalee, Fla.
New College students also organize their own service initiatives, some with faculty support. A group called Food Not Bombs takes direct action to address local poverty by providing a weekly meal in a downtown Sarasota area frequented by the homeless. One of our professors has worked with students in various venues to combine academic work and community service through service tutorials. Her students volunteered in soup kitchens and at the Hispanic American Coalition while doing research about related issues such as homelessness, hunger, social service organizations and labor unions. Here, academics and service blend seamlessly.
Organized by students, the annual Clothesline Project raises awareness of violence against women and children, particularly in areas such as domestic abuse and rape. For more than a decade, New College students have been reflecting on these issues and how they affect them at school as well as at home. The Clothesline Project features tee shirts with slogans, artwork or stories against violence. Students also knit blankets and hats for cancer patients, serve as volunteer interns at the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen through the campus ministry summer program, organize blood drives and staff a public Math Clinic at the downtown Selby Public Library.
We really do make a difference. And you can, too.