UNH student volunteers tidy up the Allingtown Green
Jasmin Portelinha ’16 didn’t lounge on a beach down south or head off on a road trip with friends during spring break. She spent the week sorting clothes, sheets and blankets, cleaning and setting up apartments. She and a team of volunteers helped make the apartments cheery and inviting for refugee families who were settling into new lives in New Haven.
Portelinha was one of 33 students who participated in an Alternative Spring Break sponsored by the University’s Office of Community Service. She volunteered at the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven. “My team was amazing!” she said. “Everyone worked very hard.”
The UNH students also volunteered at Christian Community Action, New Haven Reads, the Connecticut Food Bank, the West Haven Child Development Center, the Children’s Museum of New Haven, New Haven Home Recovery and the Furniture Co-op.
Annalisa Rose Berardinelli, `16 said she spent two days helping “people new to the country apply for jobs and write resumes. The other two days we all organized the warehouse and the thrift shop at the Furniture Co-op and painted the offices at the Home Recovery Center.” On Friday, she and a number of UNH students cleaned a playground.
Miguel Cordero Tan`13 called Alternative Spring Break rewarding and purposeful. “It keeps us humble and teaches us how to care for others,” he said.
Recently, the University was honored for its commitment to service. For the sixth year in a row, UNH was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. One the pillars of UNH’s focus on experiential education is service-learning.
“The University of New Haven is committed to serving our community and fostering a relationship between its students and neighbors,” said Angela Cortese, coordinator of Community Service. “This award acknowledges that we are holding true to that commitment.”
The three exemplary projects noted by the President’s Community Service Honor Roll were the Alternative Spring Break program, the President’s Public Service Fellowship and a project involving 80 UNH students who volunteered twice a month preparing, delivering and serving food for the Immanuel Baptist Shelter and Soup Kitchen. Last year, in these three programs alone, UNH students tutored 450 students, read 1,500 books to children, built two homes and served more than 2,300 meals.
In total, 1,720 UNH students were involved in some form of community service, volunteering more than 22,017 hours in 2011-2012.
Ariel Pierce ’15, who took part in the Alternative Spring Break program this year, said she bonded with some UNH students she had not known prior to the experience. One evening, after a long day working, they went out to a place an hour or so away from campus and sang songs there and back.
“And we were still able to get up the next day and make that apartment sparkle,” she said. “There are so many things going wrong in the world and everyone should want to be a part of the group of people making this world a better place.”
The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University operates a satellite campus in Tuscany, Italy, and offers programs at several locations throughout Connecticut and in New Mexico and California. UNH provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. The University enrolls approximately 6,400 students, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and College of Lifelong & eLearning, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.