Young Energetic Solutions (YES)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Help Us Launch Young Energetic Solutions (YES)
The Partnership for Strong Communities is starting a new Connecticut-wide initiative to help young adults play a larger role in shaping their communities: Young Energetic Solutions (YES). 
Through YES, young people will shape and promote solutions to foster the communities they and many others desire: an array of affordable rental and ownership housing opportunities; strategies to marry those affordable homes with mass transit; placemaking that will create interesting locales – with restaurants, clubs, shopping and workplaces; and proactive municipal planning to create parks, bike lanes and other amenities.

YES Kick-Off Meeting: 
Tuesday, July 24, 2012.  5:30-7:00 pm
The Lyceum.  227 Lawrence Street, Hartford, CT.
Directions here

INVITED:  People in their 20's and 30's who want to make Connecticut an even better place to live.
FREE.  Food and beverage will be served.

We want to hear from you how Young Energetic Solutions (YES) should work.  We have some ideas, but we need your input to make it concrete, and your help to make it happen.  Please come, and bring friends.  And spread the word – if you’re a young adult and want stronger Connecticut communities, we have a place for you in this effort.

Shelby Mertes, Partnership for Strong Communities.

Learn more about Young Energetic Solutions (YES)
Partnership for Strong Communities:

CCE Blog Helps a Student Get into an Awesome Program!!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

nicolle hill.jpg
Written by Christopher Herman
Willimantic, Conn. - Oxfam America named Nicolle Hill, a junior majoring in communication at Eastern Connecticut State University, as a participant in a year-long program designed to educate students on creating realistic solutions to poverty, hunger and social injustice in the global community.

Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and injustice. Each year, Oxfam's CHANGE Initiative brings together some of the most committed and gifted student activists in the United States. Students commit to engage with Oxfam for an entire academic year beginning with a weeklong advocacy and leadership training program. This year's training will take place from July 21-27 in Qunicy. MA.
The purpose of the week is to develop students' skills, expand their knowledge of global issues, and provide them with the necessary resources to their campuses so that they can undertake work with a view toward alleviating global hunger and poverty. Key issues discussed at this year's training include food justice and transparency in extractive industries.
This past spring semester, Hill participated in Eastern's Food Justice Committee. The committee distributed food to low income families in the Willimantic area. "I am not sure that people in America fully know how much poverty and hunger is impacting people around the world," said Hill, who is concerned about poverty and hunger afflicting those living in and outside of the United States. "I think that sometimes people just see big numbers, but it does not fully connect to them what those numbers mean. I am hoping that, in my own community, I will be able to show poverty in a more personal and realistic way."
Hill first learned about the Oxfam America CHANGE Initiative through Eastern's Center for Community Engagement (CCE) blog. She says she was immediately drawn to the program and its mission of creating solutions to global poverty and hunger. "I have always been very interested in serving others, making a difference and changing the world.  This program will give me the opportunity to do all of that," said Hill.
After working with the CCE and its many volunteer programs, Hill encourages Eastern students to participate in their respective communities and to believe in their own capability of being a change agent. "I firmly believe that everyone is given opportunities to make a positive impact on the world. It does not matter if the action is as small as giving someone a compliment, that action does matter," said Hill. "Being a world changer is a lifestyle. It cannot be something you do every once in a while; it has to be all the time. Paying a compliment to someone may not seem like you are changing the world, but you could be changing the world for that one person, and that is huge."

Reflections on the Food Justice Committee

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Student interest and awareness of food justice issues is on the rise. For the first time on campus a Food Justice Committee was formed within the CCE. Members involved were very diverse in a variety of capacities. A majority of the committee members were Eastern students ranging from first year students to seniors, commuters, and even faculty members. The committee convened on a weekly basis in the CCE to discuss the current state of food access to the Willimantic community. Committee members actively engaged in hands on volunteer efforts to educate the community on healthy eating and directly increased the access to fresh and health food to all members of our community including low income populations.  For instance, on a weekly basis students participated in a 12 week 4H afterschool Food and Nutrition program at Windham Middle School. The curriculum was designed by the committee and the program taught topics such as how food grows, reading labels, the water cycle, etc. Additionally, the committee has worked with the CT Food Bank to bring its mobile food pantry to Willimantic for the first time ever! The mobile pantry will provide Willimantic residents with 5,000lbs. of fresh food, free of charge, on the last Tuesday of each month.  With collaboration with the CT Food Bank, committee members participated in two gleanings at a local apple orchard. Gleanings are defined as picking through a farmer’s left over crop to salvage food for other uses. Members were able to pick 500lbs. of apples that would have otherwise rotted and donated them to Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, and the Covenant Soup Kitchen. Aside from off campus volunteerism, committee members conducted an on-campus food audit of Hurley Hall. Members put together an infographic which was placed around campus to encourage students to be aware of their food footprint. Finally, the committee members actively participate in enrichment activities to gain further understanding of the topic of food justice. For example, they have toured organic farms, interacted with farmers, attended a food justice conference in NYC, visited farmer markets and toured co-ops around the state. All of the committee’s hard work was recognized at this years’ service expo where the committee was awarded “Best New Program.” The committee will continue to grow (literally and figuratively) to get much needed resources and education not only to our off campus community but to the Eastern community as well.

Grocery Shopping Tips: Shopping Smartly & Eating Healthy

Friday, May 4, 2012

Grocery shopping can be very overwhelming and expensive! This blog post is dedicated to giving you great strategies to make grocery shopping more cost effective and help you make better decisions in regards to healthy eating. It's going to be a long post but one worth reading for sure! 

The Best Way to Save Money at the Grocery Store Starts Before you Even Arrive!
Supermarkets are designed to stimulate shopping and to encourage you to buy and eat more food. They're not particularly interested in whether you eat healthy or not but that you buy, buy, buy.
"2/3 of what we buy at the grocery store are impulse buys"
There are many great ways you can prepare yourself to not fall victim to this before you even arrive:

  1. Don't go grocery shopping while hungry. Sounds silly but psychologically you're more likely to make impulse buys when you shop on an empty stomach. So fuel up!
  2. Try to do your grocery shopping on less busy days. This is because it will create a low stress environment, you'll have better access to aisles and items you want to purchase, and you'll be less likely to try to grab something because it's easier to get to. You also might feel more rushed and not give yourself enough time to read labels because you're trying to get out of the way! Typically, government holidays and weekends are busiest. Monday through Wednesday tend to be less busier! In fact, according to Progressive Grocer, Tuesdays are the least crowded day of the week!
  3. Create a shopping list! There are many different ones out there, find one that works for you. Here's a good one:
  4. Set a budget beforehand of how much you want to spend and STICK TO IT! (see next tip)
  5. A good way to stick to your budget is to only bring that much cash with you! Leave your credit and debit cards at home and then there is no way to over spend :)
  6. Keep your cabinets and pantry's organized at home. This will allow you to quickly see what items you already have to so don't double purchase things and waste money!
  7. Dedicate shelf in your cabinet or pantry to key staple items that you need for many recipes (baking products, beans, canned tomato products, nuts, herbs, oil, pasta, rice, vinegar, etc.)
  8. Going off tips 5 & 6, do LOOK through your cabinets and pantry before going grocery shopping, even if you think you remember what's there.
  9. Give yourself plenty of time to grocery shop! Don't squeeze it in on a busy day. Food is important! Devote the time it deserves! When you rush to grocery shop you spend more money and don't give yourself enough time to read labels to buy the healthiest options!
  10. Try growing your own herbs. They're very easy, can often times be grown indoors, and you can use them in so  many recipes! Think about it--they're expensive in the store.
  11. Bring your own reusable bags because often times they'll earn you a .5-.10 cent discount!
  12. Filter your own water or drink tap water. Makes no sense to buy bottled water!
Now that I've given you some tips before you actually get to the store, lets talk about what you can do IN the store! First, did you know that pretty much all grocery stores have the same strategic layout and shelf design? They're designed with the produce and flowers in the front, followed by the bakery somewhere in the front of the store. The back is devoted to "staple" items such as meat and dairy. The middle isles have conventional products. The check-out isles have convenience items to attract  convenience  store shoppers and to get you to pick up one last thing you "need". Obviously, the bank is located at the front so you can get money (but remember tip #4!). The produce is located at the front to communicate that it's fresh and it creates a sensory experience. The bakery smells create a warm and inviting feeling. The flowers enhances the image of the store. Milk and dairy are located in the back of the store to make sure they can catch you all throughout the way to the back. 

  • The top shelf is dedicated to smaller, regional, and gourmet brands
  • The part of the shelf a eye level is called the "bulls eye zone" and it features the best sellers and name brands
  • The lower section of the shelf a kids eye level to appeal to them. You'll notice colorful items!
  • The bottom shelf contain store brands, over size, and bulk items! Be a bottom shelf shopper!
So now that you know what to do before you go grocery shopping and now know all the tricks of the grocery store, here are some strategies for while you're IN the store.

First there are many advantages and disadvantages to buying fresh, canned, and frozen produce. Special thanks to Shopping Matters, a program of Share our Strength for these great tips.
  • When it comes to fresh, you'll find great variety and the ability to touch and smell before buying. However, you have to use it quickly before it goes bad and you need to know about ripeness and proper storage.

    Tips: Save money by purchasing produce that's IN season. Not only will it be healthier for the planet but save you money and be fresher. Consider substituting in season produce in your recipes. Also, if you're unfamiliar with how to pick something out, ask somebody in produce for help! Try to only purchase enough for no more than a week! Don't forget that it's in the fridge!

    If you find yourself unable to eat what you have before it goes bad there are things you can do to salvage it! Including: combining fruits to make a salad, use it for dessert after dinner, add it to your cereal or oatmeal, freeze fruit for smoothies at another time, use overripe produce in muffins, breads, pancakes, etc., add vegetables to soups, stews, casseroles, pastas sauces, or omelets, save any vegetable scraps to make a vegetable stock for soup!

    Always remember that the closest your produce is to it's original form the more nutrients it retains. Through freezing and canning you loose some of these (but not all!)...and even through cooking. Also, read the PLU codes...the further it traveled the less fresh it is or the more things that were done to it to preserve it's freshness!

    Did you know that the PLU codes indicate if a product is organic or not? If it starts with a 9 it means it is organic. If it starts with a 4 it means it is grown conventionally!
  • Canned is another great option that can often save money when purchasing produce. Produce is froze at peak freshness, allows you to eat cheaper out of season, has a long shelf life (2-4 years), little prep, and available year round. However, it may have added things such as sugar, sodium, and fat. Additionally, the texture changes with canning.

    Tips: Choose canned vegetables that are low in sodium and fat and canned fruit hat is in light syrup or juice. Rinse canned vegetables to reduce sodium and rinse canned fruit to reduce calories.
  • Consider buying fresh produce and freezing it for future use. Keep in mind that there are freezing procedure:
  • Know what's in season:
  • Make sure you properly wash ALL fruits and vegetables before consuming. They may not only carry pesticide residue but tons of bacteria from transport. Even produce such as watermelons and oranges should be rinsed because pesticide and bacteria may reside in the rhines and when you cut with a knife or peel with your nails it can be transferred to those surfaces and than consumed by you. E. Coli and salmonella are serious bacterial threats that you can easily avoid! See next tip to know how to make a produce wash.
  • To make a produce wash, simply buy a dollar store water bottle and fill it with 3 cups of water and 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. You should spray the produce and let it sit for 5 minutes then run it under COLD water rubbing it with your hands or a brush. Then voila, all clean and safe!
  • It makes sense to buy some produce in bulk, such as onions and potatoes, as they have long shelf lives.
The meat industry can be very confusing to understand as it is flooded with often misleading labels that are added as a marketing tool. This is a GREAT resource that better explains what labels mean: For example...seeing "family farm" may make you more comfortable in buying a package of meat really means nothing other than a majority of the business is owned by the operator and individuals related to the operator by blood or marriage. It says nothing about the moral practices of the farm, it's production standards, sustainability, or size. Additionally "cage free" might seem great but there is no legal or regulated definition. Just because they were cage free doesn't mean they were raised outside in uncramped quarters and beak cutting is still permitted. So the moral of the store is really know what those labels mean! Here are some more pointers:
  • Think of meat a luxury to be consumed maybe once a week. Many people believe meat should be consumed with every meal. By consuming meat less frequently, you'll save money!
  • Know the proper portion sizes of meat. We often eat way larger portions than recommended. One serving of cooked meat is 3oz. which is the size of a bar of soap. A hamburger patty should be the size of a hockey puck. A serving of fish should be the size of a check book.
  • Try to purchase lean cuts which will have "round", "loin", or "leg" in he name (ex. tenderloin, sirloin, etc.). If it says 90% lean that means 10% is fat.
  • To consume meat in a healthier manner, try to prepare your meat in healthier ways. For example, instead of fried chicken bake it to retain a crispness.
  • Compare unit prices! The unit price shows the cost of an ounce, pint, a pound, or other amount of food and can help you compare the cost of food in different sized containers. Before you buy in bulk, think about the amount of people in your household, if you have enough space to store it,  and if the bulk size cost less per unit than the smaller sizes. For example, a 32oz. can of green beans (Can A) is $1.69. The unit price is 84.5 cents per pound. The other can of green beans (Can B) is 14.5oz. and cost 89 cents a can. It's unit price is 98.2 cents per pound. So even though Can A cost more, it's 13.7 cents cheaper per pound and is the better value.
  • Also consider that meat and dairy significantly increase your chances for chronic diseases and you might want to think about severely limiting your intake or cutting them out of your diet completely. I great documentary you can watch as a starting point to learn more is Forks Over Knives: And it's streaming on Netflix!

Like eat, consuming dairy past a certain age is certainly a hot topic and one you can decide upon for yourself. Similar to meat, dairy consumption is known to increase your chances for chronic diseases so once again I suggest watching Forks Over Knives. The milk industry is a giant monopoly that constantly runs campaigns (ever heard of "Got Milk?") to convince people that we need milk for calcium and it's essential to a healthy life. Notice the "Got Milk?" campaigns never advertise a particular brand of milk. Also, they are huge lobbyers that promote and encourage government agencies such as the CDC to encourage dairy consumption! Here are some pointers:
  • Purchase low-fat dairy products for adults and children over the age of 2
  • Yogurt packaged for children contains high amounts of sugar! Instead, purchase plain and low-fat yogurt and flavor it yourself. You can do this by adding things such as: fruit, granola, cinnamon, or honey. Get creative!
  • Plain yogurt is a great healthy substitute for sour cream in recipes.
  • There are many great non-dairy products that you can get calcium from. They include: calcium-fortified orange juice, soy/rice/almond milk, leafy greens, etc.
  • Compare labels for butter and margarine. Butter contains more saturated fat but many margarine products contain saturated fat AND trans fat which both have negative consequences on our health.
  • Remember that eggs are an economical source of protein. If kept refrigerated, they can last 4 to 5 weeks after you purchase them. Often times, they are still good after their "expiration dates" and there is a really easy water trick you can do to figure out if your eggs are still good or not:
  • When it comes to cheese, again compare unit prices and labels but also take into consideration if whole blocks or shredded versions are cheaper for what you need. Sometimes, it may save you money if you grate it yourself. Plus, it makes it more versatile as you can have it in both forms!
Always shop for WHOLE GRAINS. They have the most nutrients and vitamins which are often lost in the refining process. They contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants!Here are some more pointers:
  • Just because the bread is brown does not mean its made with whole grains!
  • Whole grains should be the FIRST item listed on the ingredients. You may see: whole, whole grain, bulgur, buckwheat, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, or brown rice.
  • Any whole grain that is listed after the first ingredient may be a tiny amount! So don't be fooled when it says "made with whole grains" always, always, ALWAYS read the label.
  • To save money, look for bread baked on the previous day. It's still good but they will mark the price down.
  • Stretch your bread products by using it for things like french toast, stuffing, croutons, bread crumbs, etc.
  • Bread can be kept froze for up to 6 months. So if you think you won't use it right away, leave out however much you need and freeze the rest.
CerealBreakfast cereals are often high in sugar and are geared towards appealing to young children. However, we all know that at no matter what the age we all fall victim to this sugary sweet stuff. Here are some great strategies:
  • Purchase low-sugar cereals and add sweetness by topping with fruit like bananas, berries, etc.
  • Try to purchase store brands to save money
  • Don't be fooled by labels on juice. "100% Vitamin C" doesn't mean it's 100% juice. Only if it's labeled "100% Juice" is it really that.
  • Again, pay attention to serving sizes on your snack foods. We often consume way more calories than necessary.
  • Don't buy bottled water. Drink tap water or filter it yourself. Additionally, you can add flavor to it by adding things such as slices of citrus, other fruits and berries, or herbs like mint!
  • Instead of throwing out leftovers, save them so you can "snack" on them.
  • Make your own snacks instead of the high calorie and processed snacks in the middle isle. Ideas: cheese and a piece of fruit, whole wheat crackers, raw vegetables with peanut butter, slice of deli meat rolled around a piece of cheese.
When Reading Labels
The % daily value helps you determine if a serving of food is high or low in a nutrient. Keep in mind this rule: 20%+ is HIGH and 5% or less is LOW. So you want foods HIGH in fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron. They are key nutrients that help fight disease and support a healthy body. You want foods LOW in fat, cholesterol, and sodium because they increase your risk for many chronic illnesses including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

I hope that this little guide has been of help to you. Please comment with questions and general comments and if you disagree with something! This is solely my opinion, experience, and research. I am by no means a dietitian, just an informed consumer! Ultimately, what you choose to consume and how much you choose to spend on it (in both time and money) is your decision. What works best for me may not work for you so it's important to think about what strategies you can incorporate into your lifestyle. On a closing note, I'd like to suggest a great book that is a terrific resource and guide into the confusing world of food. What to Eat by Marion Nestle, a famous foodie and scholar in the field (she teaches at NYU), is wonderful! Go read it.

Last, but not least, I'll leave you with this short video of a grocery store tour I did recently. The quality isn't great and it's only snippets. All the important stuff is in this post :)

CCE Service Expo & Awards

Monday, April 23, 2012

This past week was a wonderful one for the Center for Community Engagement volunteers! The third annual Service Expo and Awards occurred last Thursday from 2-5pm in the Betty Tipton Room in the Student Center.
                Different groups representing their particular service categories displayed tri-fold boards for judges and fellow volunteers. Different awards were being given to students demonstrating: going green, broadening horizons, leadership development, effective communication, best new program, and strengthening communities. Each group of volunteers were ranked and scored on their particular project, their effectiveness on creating awareness, and their influence on Eastern and the Willimantic community, among many other things. Each volunteer group created fantastic presentations on their services and it was really tough for the judges to only select one winner for each group.
                Among the students that were honored, faculty and staff that have given much to the Eastern and Willimantic communities were applauded for their efforts. There is no doubting that a small group of people can have an outstanding effect on a community.
                Congratulations to all of the winners, and all of the volunteers that offered their dedication during the school year!
Going Green: Willimantic Wildlife Habitat (Sarah Lion-Egan and Heather Lepper)
Effective Communication: Best Buddies "Spread the Word o End the Word"
Leadership Development: College 411 a Hartford High School (Todd Aviles and Kayla Bynum)
Best New Program: Windham Center After School Program (Max Goto) and the Food Justice Committee
Broadening Horizons: PHP Pen Pals Program
Strengthening Communities: The Sisterhood Project

Summer Program Assistant Intern

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Title: Summer Program Assistant Intern
Department:  Community Engagement
Reports to: Community Engagement Coordinator
(Amara Watkin-Anson, 860.548.9877 ext. 201)

Position Description: The majority of this position will be spent assisting the Community Engagement Coordinator lead weekday programs throughout the summer.
The intern will be expected to develop and lead games and activities, and perform basic administrative tasks.

Responsibilities include:
·         Assisting program staff with curriculum development and daily program delivery
·         Providing supervision of camp participants at all times
·         Facilitating activities (games, art projects)
·         Assisting with set up and prep work as needed
·         Facilitating the distribution of summer lunch
·         Assisting program staff with daily operational tasks

  • At least 1 year of formal or informal teaching experience with
 children (ages 4-10)
  • Excellent communication skills with children and adults
  • Ability to seek and accept supervision and guidance
  • Maturity and patience

Student Benefits: The goals for this position include developing teaching skills, creating educational materials, program development and practicing customer service skills through daily.

Schedule: 10am-4pm Monday-Friday beginning July 9th and ending August 17, 2012

Please note: this is an unpaid position.


Law and Government Academy Inspires!

Monday, April 9, 2012

“I may not change the world, but let me inspire someone who can”
                The Law and Government Academy of Hartford High School has been working towards inspiring Hartford High School students to change their world. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 13.3% of Hartford’s residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Graduates of LGA (and others) that now attend Eastern decided to take action and encourage and inspire Hartford High students to not fall into the majority.
                Eastern students attended Hartford High School to speak on a panel with the sophomore, junior, and senior classes to answer questions and tell the students the benefits of attending college, whether it be at the community college or university level. Many of the LGA students were Hartford High graduates themselves and knew that there would be a need for a mentor for these students. Hartford High School alumni, Gina Martinez stated, “My role as far as I’m concerned is to serve as a mentor in helping guide the students down the  right path as well as address any questions or concerns they may have regarding college.”
                Former LGA senior Class President and one of the founders of the mentoring program, Kayla J. Bynum, explained that “There are people out there who assume that the majority of Hartford students will never graduate high school and go off to college”, she goes onto say, “I truly do want to see these students succeed. They are all intelligent, gifted, free-spirited students, who with the right guidance and motivation WILL succeed”. With the work of these Eastern students and the drive of the Hartford High students, there seems to be nothing stopping them.
                The LGA mentoring group has been doing an outstanding job helping and mentoring these students. There is so much that Eastern students can accomplish- and when they help others to accomplish their dreams, there is no stopping them!

Student Spotlight: Ashley Lovett

Monday, April 2, 2012

This past Wednesday, junior Ashley Lovett (Marlboro, CT) received the Ella T Grasso Award for excellence in community service. Ashley is a sociology major and has been involved in many different community outreach programs during her time at Eastern. Currently, Ashley is a resident assistant in Niejadlik Hall.
Ashley’s accomplishments have been incredibly impactful on the Eastern and Willimantic communities. She has been a huge influence on the Journey House, a transitional living home for adolescent girls, and is the president of the Best Buddies club at ECSU.
One of Ashley’s greatest accomplishments through the Best Buddies program occurred earlier this semester. A nation-wide campaign to abolish the use of the word “retarded” in a derogatory manner has been in effect for a few years now. Being the president of Best Buddies, Ashley and other members stationed themselves around campus one day and asked fellow students to make a pledge of not saying the R-WORD any longer in their daily use. Outstandingly, Ashley and her team collected more than 1,500 signatures! This was an amazing accomplishment for the group, and especially for Ashley.
Ashley hopes to carry on her volunteerism into the future. She hopes to have a career with a non-profit or perhaps in higher education. Regardless of her career path, there is no question she will be making Eastern proud!

Themed Housing

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hello Volunteers,

As engaged Eastern students you should strongly consider some great opportunities offered through the office of Housing and Residential Life next year! Next year, four themed housing opportunities will be offered:
  1. Civic and Community Engagement
  2. Honors Scholars
  3. Education
  4. Social Work/Psychology

You can extend your volunteer work through themed housing, build new friendships, and take your service to the next level. The mission of the Civic and Community Engagement community is:

“to unite students who demonstrate an interest and commitment to issues surrounding social justice and community engagement. Residents will examine global and local social issues; residents will also develop and implement programs to address the needs of the local Willimantic community.  This Living Learning Community will work closely with the Center for Community Engagement”.

To apply:

Eastern Recognized by President Obama!

Monday, March 19, 2012

On March 12, at the American Council on Education’s Annual Conference in Los Angeles, the Corporation for National and Community Service announced that Eastern has been named to President Obama’s 2012 Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction.
The Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. Eastern was selected in recognition of our commitment to service and civic engagement on our campus and in our local communities.
Of 14 colleges and universities in Connecticut who made the honor roll, Eastern was joined only by the University of Connecticut in the “with distinction” category.  Nationally, we were in the company of such institutions as Stanford, Villanova, Notre Dame, and Cornell.  In addition, the only other COPLAC school that made the “with distinction” category was SUNY-Geneseo.

“Community service has been a hallmark at Eastern since our earliest days in the 1890s as the Willimantic State Normal School,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “Today, our Center for Community Engagement works closely with our faculty to ensure that the service that our students perform in local communities aligns with their academic programs.  In providing upwards of 15,000 hours a year of service to more than 40 local agencies and nonprofits, Eastern students are demonstrating their social responsibility while learning valuable professional and organizational skills. At the same time, the hours that our students provide to client agencies each year exceeds $400,000 in value.  To be recognized by President Obama as a university that exemplifies such service is something that everyone on our campus should be proud of.”  

Pre-Alternative Spring Break!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The week of Spring Break is finally upon the students at Eastern and there is so much to be excited about! Students have been working hard and finishing up midterms in order to be ready for a week off of school. Many people associate spring break with craziness and somewhere tropical. This year for spring break seven students and an AmeriCorps VISTA are headed to Sequanota State Park to partake in Alternative Spring Break.

An Alternative Spring Break is taking the week during spring break to give back to a community in need. This year the group will be cleaning and maintaining trails at Sequanota State Park, helping out at a local soup kitchen, and offering a helping hand wherever there is a need. Sequanota State Park is located in Jennerstown, PA, an eight hour drive from Eastern.

Co-trip leader, Lauren Kostak (Environmental Earth Science Major, Canton CT) said "I'm excited to spend time outside, giving back to the community, and meeting new people." This is Lauren's second ASB trip through Eastern and her first time leading one. "There has been so much prep work to get ready for our week, so now that it's finally upon us, I can't wait! It'll be exciting to see all our hard work being played out." Lauren is definitely ready for an exciting week!

One way in which the trip members have been preparing is through the fundraising. The students vacuumed and cleaned windows of cars for the Eastern faculty and staff a few weeks ago. This fundraiser was met with many happy ECSU staff members. In total the group raised $415!

The ASB trip members will be leaving Eastern bright and early on Sunday morning! Can't wait to hear how their week went once they get back!

Trip Members:
Lauren Kostak (co-trip leader), Brae Ferguson (co-trip leader), Kristina Scherber (AmeriCorps VISTA), Calvin Underwood, Todd Mitnick, Tom Przybylek, Anna Sobanski, Zaniab Giwa

Alternative Spring Break: Car Clean Up!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

This past Friday, March 2, there was a different kind of commotion occurring in the parking lot next to the Gelsi-Young building. The Alternative Spring Break members were busily cleaning faculty cars to raise a little bit of money for their expedition to Pennsylvania!

Trip members stood outside from 12pm-5pm vacuuming out cars and wiping windows clean for the ECSU staff. Junior co-trip leader, Lauren Kostak (Environmental Earth Science Major, Canton, CT) stated "this has been a wonderful fundraiser. Having the Eastern faculty and staff willing to help students achieve their goals is awesome. I know all of us really appreciate their generosity".

The Alternative Spring Break will be occurring during the Spring Break week (March19-26) and the trip members will be headed to Jennerstown, Pennsylvania. They will be staying at Sequanota State Park in cabins and helping the Park staff to clean and maintain trails, work at a local soup kitchen, and provide any other helping hands that are needed in the area.

"We are really excited about heading to PA. I can't wait to see what the trails have to offer us! We are bonding quickly as a team and work well together." Said Junior co-trip leader, Brae Ferguson (Communications Major, Bethel, CT).

Overall, the ASB trip members made $415 during their time cleaning cars! Congratulations to all the trip members and good luck!

Left to right: Lauren Kostak (trip leader), Calvin Underwood, Brae Ferguson (trip leader), Kristina Scherber (ECSU staff supervisor), Tom Przybylek, Todd Mitnick
Not Pictured: Anna Sobanski, Zanaib Giwa

Are you a CHANGE Leader?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Do you know a student at Eastern Connecticut State University who is ready to help change the world?
In April, Oxfam America will select 50 incredible undergraduates from the U.S. and around the world to be part of our national leadership program, the CHANGE Initiative ( CHANGE offers students the opportunity to develop essential leadership skills as social change agents, while encouraging civic engagement and heightening their awareness of their own cultural worldview. It further gives students the resources they need to become advocates and make a difference in the global fight against hunger, poverty, and injustice.
Students selected as CHANGE Leaders:
  • Connect with Oxfam staff and have access to expert skills based training, resources, materials and year-round support;
  • Engage in community service & advocacy efforts that address critical community needs;
  • Find their own leadership identity;
  • Develop confidence and the skills to effect positive, lasting social change, and
  • Become part of an active and growing, global network of peers and alumni working on social justice issues. 
 We are recruiting for CHANGE Leaders to serve on their campus during the 2012-2013 academic year. They are invited to attend an all-expense paid leadership training in Boston, MA in July.
Applications are due April 2 – have Eastern Connecticut State University students apply and help spread the word!

The Discovery Center Volunteer Opportunity

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Discovery Center
A classroom without walls for a future without prejudice. 

Be a Volunteer at an Award Winning Educational Diversity Program!

Do you like to work with student?
Do you want to be a part of a progressive education program?
If you answered yes then this is the perfect volunteer opportunity for you!

What is the Discovery Center?
They are an award-winning, non-profit organization founded by Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, located at science Camp Woodstock in Woodstock, CT. Their vision is to work toward a future where people of all ages recognize, accept, value, and celebrate individual and cultural diversity.

Their Mission:
To shape positive attitudes about race and differences, reduce Isolationism between urban and suburban/rural schools, and improve math, science and language arts skills.

Benefits of Volunteering!
  • Help build your resume with unique experience
  • Networking opportunities with local schools, teachers, and administrators
  • Gain real-life experience in working with diverse group of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders
  • Receive a certificate of completion upon the end of the season
  • Have fun and make new friends!
  • earn credit for community service and possible service scholarships
  • Potential for employment with the Discovery Center

For More Information Please Contact:
Jessica or Reanda at

Your "Foodprint"

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Did you know that agriculture is a major greenhouse gas emitter? 

Food is one of our most basic needs but it is very 
unfairly distributed among the world’s people. Some countries have too much food resulting in problems of obesity and overweight, while other countries have food shortages with people suffering from hunger, malnutrition and famine.  People do not go hungry because of a global shortage of food. There is enough produced in the world to feed everyone; so much food in fact that in richer countries a lot of food ends up in the bin! Hunger and malnutrition are instead a result of a lack of land to grow food or a shortage of money to buy it. 

We've searched the web and found the best study that explains what a "foodprint" means and why you should care! Please, take a look by clicking this link!

changes you can make right here on campus and in Willimantic!

  1. Urge the dining company on campus (Chartwells) to continue to buy local products, and more of them!
  2. While at Hurley, eat the local products! You'll know they're local when marked so.
  3. Shop at the Willimantic Co-Op on Valley Street (even better, become a member!)
  4. Only eat what you need at Hurley! Go up for seconds if you're still hungry but don't waste food!
  5. Drink organic and fair trade coffee at the Student Center, Library Cafe, and the Closet Cafe whenever possible!
  6. Carpool with your friends when you go grocery shopping
  7. Check out the local farmer markets and buy directly from the farmer (the best option!):
Willimantic Farmers Market <5 minutes away
Saturdays 8am-12pm
Pavilion near Frog Bridge (Jackson Street & Union Street)
Market Manager: Sarah Pappenheimer/ (860) 423-0533/
May 28-October 29

Coventry Farmers Market 15 minutes away
*Voted CT's BEST farmers market
Summer: June-October Sundays 11am-2pm
Nathan Hales Homestead, 2299 South Street, Coventry
Winter: November 20th - end of February Sundays 11am-2pm
Coventry High School (78 Ripley Hill Road, Coventry, CT)

Storrs Farmers Market 10 minutes away
Saturdays 3pm-5pm
Winter: Mansfield Public Library (54 Warrensville Road, Mansfield) Dec.10
th-April 28th
Summer:3pm-6pm in the Mansfield Town Hall parking lot (4 South Eaglesville Road, Mansfield) May 7
th-Nov. 19th
Market Manager: Brian O'Hara 860-423-4834 /

10 general changes you can make to your food choices to reduce your environmental foodprint:

  1. Eat less beef, pork, and lamb.
  2. Eat out at restaurants less often.
  3. Eat fewer dairy products.
  4. Drink fewer soft drinks.
  5. Eat seasonal and local fruits and vegetables.
  6. Eat fewer packaged snacks and junk food.
  7. Upgrade to an energy efficient refrigerator.
  8. Eat wild fish that are not endangered.
  9. Drink less bottled water.
  10. Walk to your local farmers market or grocery store.

Nick and Pat's Ride for Hunger

Monday, February 13, 2012

Going the distance to make a difference!
Eastern Connecticut State University seniors, Nick Fitzner and Patrick Scully are using their Spring Break week to certainly go the distance.  The Rugby co-captains are riding their bikes from Washington DC to Willimantic to raise $25,000 for the Covenant Soup Kitchen, the Greater Hartford Food Share, and the Connecticut Food Bank.

The boys were inspired by Coach Ray Aramini, who rode from California to Willimantic, and Canada to Willimantic to raise money to fight hunger in Connecticut. Nick and Patrick have been recreationally riding their bikes for years and decided to give up driving their cars. While they had been riding everyday they decided to ride for a cause and raise some money. Being captains and active members of the ECSU Rugby team, they had volunteered at Covenant Soup Kitchen before and became inspired to raise money for the cause.

Nick and Patrick have been fiercely preparing for their journey. They are riding their bikes every day, mapping out their route, and figuring out logistics. Their planned route includes riding about one hundred miles every day during their weeklong expedition. They don’t plan on sightseeing too much; despite this being Nick’s first time going to DC. “We’re excited about seeing the things you don’t plan on seeing. Some of the coolest sightseeing is the stuff you don’t expect to see”.
The boys are also prepared for some struggle on the trip. They foresee weather as being their biggest hardship. “March is a tough month to predict how the weather will be. One day could be sunny and 70, the next it could be snowing”. Nick and Patrick also realize the physical pain will play into their routine. The boys explained that when riding a bike for long periods of time, your hands and feet are the first things to go numb. Despite all these obstacles there is nothing stopping them from achieving their goals!
Nick and Patrick have learned a lot just through their preparation stages. They have seen a large willingness from friends, family, and community members to give back and they are thrilled by it. Seeing a need for any help at all, they realized how important it is to give back, “even if its $500 that we raise, at least its $500 more than these organizations had before”. They also want to encourage fellow Rugby teammates and University students to continue to bridge the gap between the Willimantic community and Eastern.

As of now, Patrick and Nick are busily getting ready for their admirable expedition. The boys are raising money and taking donations.

For more information check out and donate to their website or their Facebook page Nick and Pat’s Ride for Hunger.

Nick Fitzner (21, Economics Major, Glastonbury)
Patrick Scully (21, History and Social Sciences Major, Farmington)

City Year Applications Due Feb 15th

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hello All!
So far this year, two ECSU students applied to City Year, and we are hoping for more students this year will apply!  Those hired will begin mentoring, tutoring and running afterschool programs this August.  This is a great opportunity to develop professionally and begin your career by helping a community in need.  
Deadline for applications is February 15th, go here to apply:

For those new to City Year, City Year is a proud AmeriCorps program that began in 1988.  It is a 10 month, team based, service program for 17-24 year olds who want to make a difference in the lives and paths of students and communities, through academic support, mentoring, running after school programs, and community and school improvements, as well as coordinating projects and taking on leadership roles.  There are many benefits to the program including $5,550 education award (can be used for grad school or re-paying qualified student loans), federal student loan forbearance, bi-weekly living stipend, eligibility for exclusive scholarships, health insurance, uniform, professional development, leadership development, networking opportunities, and more!  There are 22 City Year sites across the country, including one in Rhode Island. 

Like any job, this is a competitive process, but for ECSU students who are interested in applying, I am always available to answer any questions about the application process and City Year benefits.  For those who are accepted, they will have an amazing hands on experience, while developing leadership experience, and creating their career path.  Many who come to City Year as a corps member grow within the organization, others transfer their skills to work in the fields of nonprofit, education, social services, business, and more.  Please contact me, Audra Lavoie, with any questions: or 401-454-3749 or go to

Thank you!

Audra Lavoie
Recruitment Manager

City Year
77 Eddy Street, 2nd Floor
Providence, RI 02903
office: 401-454-3749  blackberry: 401-241-8164

Student Spotlight: Kim Avery

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kim Avery, a sophomore at Eastern Connecticut State University has a passion for the American Red Cross Blood Drives. Kim has been volunteering and donating for the past three semesters and will continue to do so in the future.

Kim first became interested in volunteering with the Blood Drives on campus after donating one time. "The man who was taking my blood told me that it was great that I was donating because the blood I was giving was going to be used to help someone within three days. I realized the huge need for blood and wanted to help." Kim has since been recruiting people to donate in Webb the days before the Blood Drives, and then working the sign-in table once the volunteers show up. She has also volunteered with the canteen area, and overall just wants to help wherever there is a need.

Kim noted that the most rewarding aspect of working with the Blood Drives is knowing that she is helping someone else. She also expressed some of the challenges. "I want to help as much as I can, and sometimes my class schedule interrupts with that. So instead of cancelling on the Blood Drives, I bring my laptop and study while sitting at the sign-in table." The balance of school and volunteering can be bridged!

Kim offers advice to any first time volunteers working within the Blood Drives: "make sure you know what you are getting into, and do it because you want to. And make sure you can balance both school work and volunteering".

Career Fair!

Monday, February 6, 2012

(click to enlarge)

Student Spotlight: Megan Sargent

Friday, February 3, 2012

Megan Sargent, a freshman at Eastern Connecticut State University is a student with a very driven attitude. Megan has dreams about becoming a second grade teacher for an inner city elementary school. How has she been fueling her resume? Volunteering at the Center for Community Engagement!

Megan first began volunteering with the CCE last semester. She knew she wanted to volunteer, and after hearing about the CCE through orientation, she decided to seek out more information. Megan learned about the CCE's role in after school programs with the North Windham school systems. She eagerly signed up to work with the elementary aged children. As a native to Manchester, CT, Megan had already gained some experience with working with children. During the summers Megan works with the Manchester Parks and Recreation at Camp Mahoney, which specializes in care for elementary aged students. Being back in a classroom full of kids was exactly what Megan wanted.

Beginning her time at the school, Megan was a little hesitant. She knew that the Windham community was one that was in need, but she was excited about embarking on a journey that was outside of her normal realm. Before she went to the school Megan learned that it was among the top schools in need of aid for school lunches. She also learned about the language barriers. "I was nervous at first going into the school because of the differences from my hometown, but the language barriers were easy to bridge, and the kids were really excited to see me so it became easier."

Megan has really enjoyed her time volunteering with the school systems because she knows she will be able to apply her newfound knowledge to her career goals in the future. Working with this age group and demographic, she has really been able to pinpoint where she would like to teach.

Megan offers advice for anyone going to volunteer for the first time: "go into it with an open mind and try to think of ways that you can contribute without being told, and just have fun!"

Tips for First Time Volunteers

Monday, January 30, 2012

Looking to volunteer for the first time?
Read these helpful tips!

Volunteer with a friend!
Volunteering can be a daunting task, especially if you haven't ever partaken in it. To feel more comfortable, invite a friend or two to accompany you. You may find something that strengthens your bond as friends, and helps the community!

Start small!
Starting out to volunteer is an awesome commitment, however, if you aren't sure where you want to volunteer, starting out only doing an hour or two a week may be best. You can start small to find out if you really enjoy it, and then continually add more hours so you feel more comfortable.

Find something interesting!
If you are nervous about choosing a location, think of things that are of interest to you. If you are taking a class about developmental disorders and enjoy learning about it, volunteering at the Special Olympics can be exciting and educational for you.

Use your talents!
One way to feel most comfortable volunteering is to volunteer with an organization that could use your personal expertise. Different organizations can use all types of volunteers to help out. From athletic to musical, your talents and hobbies can be of use!

Learn something new!
Have you ever wanted to try learning something new? Want a fun, inventive way to learn it? Volunteer somewhere that can teach you new and exciting things!

Develop leadership skills!
Volunteering in your community is a valuable trait that teaches many things. Learning something new is awesome, and developing the person you already are into a leader is another something else that volunteering can offer you!

Food & Nutrition Program Week 1

Friday, January 27, 2012

Yesterday we went to Windham Middle School to kick off our 4H Food and Nutrition Program. Since it was our first time we did some ice breaker games that most Eastern students dread doing but the kids absolutely LOVED! It was a lot of fun to see them excited about games like "Squirt", "Move Your Booty", and "Get on the Bus." The ice breakers helped ease away the shyness some kids had when they approached us.

Our first activity was called "Bean Buddy." Basically, we went over the basics of what plants need to grow: water, air, sunlight, and soil. We then constructed mini greenhouses which had all of these with plastic bags. This activity will be the catalyst for our program as next week we'll get to see how the plant started to germinate and have activities about seeds. The next weeks will be dedicated to soil, water, plants, climate, sun/photosynthesis, and nutrition!

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped out! Stay posted to hear about our adventures in the weeks to follow...

Under Awareness Panel & Collection!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Click images to enlarge:

1st FJC Meeting Wrap Up

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meeting Notes
Thank you to those that attended the first Food Justice Committee meeting! We went over:
  • - Why we’re here
  • -   Goals of the committee
  • -   How the committee will work
  • -   4H After School Program

Some of the food justice interest of those who were able to attend were: GMOs, food politics, nutrition, the industry, appreciation of food, farming, hunger & access locally, volunteering, youth.

We’re going to have a discussion at our weekly meetings on these topics. We’ll all share in taking on a leading a discussion based on our interest where we can share what we have read/watched/heard and have a discussion as a group about the information and how we can address that particular in Willimantic. From that, we can plan our events. This is no pressure or formality required whatsoever!

Next Meeting
Our next meeting is Monday, January 30th at 1pm again in the CCE. Becky is going to investigate information on the local status of the population and food security. We will discuss her findings next week. Feel free to search around too and if you find anything, bring it to next week’s meeting.

Whitney brought up some interesting ideas after the meeting in regards to food waste, dumpster diving, and Chartwells. We’ll get into that too!

4H After School Program
This Thursday we will be starting a Food & Nutrition After School Program at Windham Middle School. Thank you to those who expressed interest in helping with this initiative. We will be working with 11 middle schoolers on Thursdays from 4pm-5pm. We will plan and put on a basic curriculum on how plants grow (i.e. lessons on soil, sunlight, water, parts of a plant, etc) and healthy eating (i.e. “my plate”, reading food labels, etc). Starting in March, we will go to Sweeney Elementary School on Fridays and work with the Middle Schoolers to enable them to teach the younger kids the same lessons! Should be a lot of fun J If you would like to as volunteer as well, please let me know ASAP.

Courtesy of Dr. Curran: Good source of international data and current research. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization. Excellent general and country-specific information and current research. Good for globalization data. US Department of Agriculture.  Good source for food recalls (agency archives goes back to 1996), food research, rural community data, food security and nutrition data, info on WIC and child nutrition. US Environmental Protection Agency. Info on environmental regulation of agricultural chemicals, on agriculture-related contamination, pesticides, climate change, and sustainability. Food and Drug Administration. Good info on food safety and recalls, regulatory science, and globalization. United Farm Workers site. Great data on US farm labor practices, current research, pesticide data, good video lab too. The UN site where there’s additional data under the headings of development, human rights, and the World Food Programme. The World Bank site where you can search specific projects related to food production and get data on world hunger. International Monetary Fund. Another good source for country-specific data.

Books: Diet for a Dead Planet, Banana, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Compassionate Carnivore, and Fashionable Foodn Fast Food Nation, The Death of Ramon Garcia, Food Politics, What to Eat.

Have a great week and I hope to see you at our next meeting, Monday January  30th at 1pm in the CCE!