NEWBURGH – Nearly 100 Mount Saint Mary College faculty members and local community leaders gathered recently to inspire the spirit of service across campus and beyond.
The Mount faculty development exercise, titled “Celebrating Our Caring Community,” featured area service organizations such as Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, the Medici Scholar Program hosted by Walden Savings Bank, 100 Men for Newburgh, the Newburgh Armory Unity Center, and the Newburgh Ministry, as well as the Mount’s Center for Community Engagement, Center for Adolescent Research and Development (CARD), Collaborative in Equality for Literacy Learning (CELL), Center on Aging and Policy (CAP), and Project CODE (Creating Opportunities for Digital Education).
Faculty members delved into the service-learning programs of each organization and discussed opportunities for Mount students to make a positive impact on the community.
Colin Jarvis, executive director of the Newburgh Ministry, addressed participants after an introduction from Michael Olivette, interim vice president for Academic Affairs. The synergy between the Mount and the Newburgh Ministry has not only benefited both organizations, he said, but the Newburgh community as a whole.
Jarvis noted that many K-12 students in Newburgh schools are economically disadvantaged. In addition, he said that about one third of young teachers working in the city’s schools leave the district within five years.
“By all accounts, my friends, we are at critical mass,” he said. “There is much work that needs to be done. …With our elective cooperation, problems can dissolve.”
Cooperation between the Newburgh Ministry and Mount Saint Mary College has led to the successful Jumpstart program, Jarvis said. Developed by Mount teacher candidates, Jumpstart is a literacy program for at-risk elementary through middle school students. Run by Mount volunteers, the broad goals of the program are to improve children’s life perspectives, develop their reading and writing skills, increase their confidence in their abilities, and help them to believe that a college education is possible for them.
“We want to give these children the best start, a head start, at school,” he explained.
Dean Goldberg, associate professor of communication arts and film studies, serves as vice president of the Newburgh Ministry Board of Directors.
“For many years, the Mount has been very important to the Newburgh Ministry, and vice versa,” said Goldberg. “The Mount is very much steeped in the tradition of service, and the Newburgh Ministry is a great reflection of that.”
Carl Jack ’14, director of Newburgh’s Center for Hope, closed out the event by offering a simple way to empower the city’s young students: Give them the attention they need to succeed.
“The work that we do as social workers, as teachers, as citizens, is so important to these kids,” he explained. “Even when you don’t think you’re making an impact, you are.”