Sacred Heart University community members worked very hard this year when it came to engaging with the neighboring communities. Students, faculty and staff completed more than 50,000 community service hours for the 2014-2015 year, with the majority of those hours given by students.
The bulk of the hours involved supporting local charitable efforts and non-profit organizations in Bridgeport and other surrounding towns. The University regularly posts weekly volunteer opportunities at local Bridgeport public schools, soup kitchens and food banks, senior centers and non-profit preschools.
The Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning has a mission to ensure that Sacred Heart students are a part of the community in a meaningful and positive way. This year, Sacred Heart got together with Fairfield University and the University of Bridgeport to do a beach cleanup at Seaside Park in Bridgeport. This allowed students to interact with local schools and to feel a part of the Bridgeport community. Some assignments involve large groups of students, faculty and staff, such as park cleanups or the North End community fair put together with the support of Greek Life this past year. Other assignments are more personal. These include mentoring and tutoring in the Bridgeport Public Schools.
Each semester kicks off with a service immersion program in Bridgeport — even before students start to attend classes. Students and staff work at various nonprofits in the area, interact with the residents and experience some of the various cultures that are celebrated in Bridgeport.
Habitat for Humanity is a big component of SHU’s community service. The campus Habitat club is the largest group on campus and one of the largest Habitat clubs in the state. Students and staff work both locally and in communities throughout the country during winter and spring breaks.
“A huge piece of our community service is the willingness that the students, faculty and staff have to serve our immediate community and communities around the world,” says Laura Scroggins, assistant director of volunteer programs. “And our students benefit just as much as the communities do. They build character and broaden their world view as they serve.”