On Sunday, May 3rd, Community Outreach celebrated 20 years of past and present achievements of the collective work and passion put into our organization by bringing together over 175 students, alumni, university staff and faculty, and community partners to the UConn-Storrs Student Union. The event provided an opportunity to reflect on the growth of Community Outreach over the past 20 years and to recognize and discuss the importance of service and leadership both within the UConn community and beyond.
The morning began with a personal reflection from the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Christine Wilson, and welcome remarks from Community Outreach’s Associate Director, Gina DeVivo Brassaw. Yessame Alemu ’15, a Community Outreach Public Relations student leader shared her video highlighting the growth of Community Outreach over the years before Mary Duggan ’10, shared her personal journey with Community Outreach and service after graduation as she introduced the keynote speaker.
Community Outreach was pleased to welcome the keynote speaker, Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation of National and Community Service (CNCS). CNCS is a federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund, and other programs that champion community solutions and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. Wendy spoke about the impact of service work at the national level and highlighted the need for continuing engagement with recent graduates into service work to assist with lowering unemployment and to support job training skills. Wendy challenged the office to find ways to measure the impact that we are making in communities and to continue to serve beyond graduation, whether it is through programs like AmeriCorps or volunteering with organizations in your free time.
Following the keynote, Matt Farley, past Associate Director for Community Outreach and current Executive Director of CT Campus Compact, spoke about the progress that we have made over the last 20 years and the need for continued work in our communities. He reminded us to seek to understand and remain aware of the issues facing members in our society so that we can find ways to collaborate with others seeking change.
Gina DeVivo Brassaw announced the new scholarship to support students and groups in engaging in service activities that enrich their learning and enhance the quality of life for others. The service award will work to decrease or eliminate financial barriers for individual students or groups of students interested in doing service. Student Leaders, Carly Zerr ’15 and John Gerrity ’15, both student coordinators with Community Outreach and chairs of the Ignite team both shared the support they were able to gain through the Ignite competition where they received 2nd place overall with 234 donors, raising more than $10,000 through donations and challenges through the campaign.
We were then pleased to have Sarah Hodes from Tyco SimplexGrinnell join us to announce Tyco SimplexGrinnell’s support towards the students’ efforts with a donation of $30,000 to establish the newly endowed scholarship and $20,000 towards our 20th Celebration. Community Outreach is excited to continue the collaboration with Tyco SimplexGrinnell. Check back soon for more details about the scholarship!
Thank you to our sponsor!
The afternoon lunch event focused on celebrating our work this past year and recognizing individuals, programs, and partners who best exemplify the values and priorities of Community Outreach and thanking all those who helped make the year successful and impactful.