A Job Well Done

Members of the university community celebrate meeting GW’s service challenge on the Mount Vernon Campus.

students speaking at podium for service challenge
May 03, 2010

Over the last seven months, more than 3,800 GW students, faculty, staff and members of the Board of Trustees have participated in community service projects throughout the Washington, D.C., area and the country. Their efforts helped the university reach its 100,000 service hour goal and secure first lady Michelle Obama as the 2010 Commencement speaker.

On April 30, the GW community marked this milestone at a Celebration of Service event on the Mount Vernon Campus Quad, which included a barbecue and an awards ceremony recognizing the contributions of Office of Community Service (OCS) staff and select members of the GW community. This academic year, participants in OCS programs logged more than 70,000 service hours.

Student Association former president Julie Bindelglass and current president Jason Lifton congratulated their fellow Colonials for achieving the service goal and continuing to give back to the community. “When Jason and I wrote Michelle Obama in July, we wrote about the passion and commitment that is truly unique to GW students,” said Ms. Bindelglass. “With the opportunities we are given to live and learn in the heart of the nation’s capital, we are naturally drawn to the opportunity to serve. By taking the knowledge that we learn in the classroom, we are able to give back to our community and improve the lives of others.”

In his remarks, President Steven Knapp said he never doubted the university would meet the challenge and said the entire GW community will continue to be inspired to give back. “Public service has been a hallmark of the university ever since [it] was first envisioned by one of the founding public servants of our nation, George Washington,” said Dr. Knapp. “This is in our blood; it’s part of our DNA; it’s going to be something we’re forever committed to, and we’ll find plenty of opportunities next year to continue The George Washington University’s great tradition of service.”

Dr. Knapp also congratulated the 388 students, faculty and staff who individually logged more than 100 service hours, receiving President Obama’s Volunteer Service Award.

OCS Associate Director Timothy Kane and Assistant Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Helen Cannaday Saulny presented a GW student, student group, staff member, faculty member and community partner with OCS Excellence in Service awards for their exceptional contributions to service.

The award winners included Neighbors Project Service Coordinator Joyce Ma, Alternative Winter Break Nashville, Lt. David Heffer of the GW Police Department, Adjunct Instructor in GW’s Department of Prevention and Community Health Karyn Pomerantz, and The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.

The OCS staff recognized included Greta Murray, Tessa Bialek, Emily Penprase, Karen Hopkins, Emily Mazurak, Morgan Ray, Shannon Donahue and Brittany Oliver. Ms. Cannaday Saulny was also recognized for her guidance throughout the challenge.

Prior to the awards ceremony, GW hosted Jump Start for a Day (JFAD), which brought approximately 300 preschool children from low-income communities to the Mount Vernon Campus for arts and crafts and other activities with approximately 100 GW students. George Washington students work with the national nonprofit throughout the year to provide the children with individualized mentoring and tutoring.

Jamie Bright, student coordinator of the service challenge and event emcee, says GW’s students were “at the heart” of the challenge. “The amount of service performed this year by students as individuals, as groups of friends, as Greek chapters and as student organizations amazes me,” she says. “Reaching 100,000 hours wasn't something that happened because a small group of students already involved in service did a lot of hours; it is something that happened because thousands of students from every walk of life at GW spent at least a few hours this year serving others and giving back.”

The service challenge was part of GW’s overall commitment to public and community service. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) recognized the university’s commitment to service for a third consecutive year and named GW to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The total hours achieved during the service challenge will be announced at GW’s Commencement ceremony.

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