IMPACT replaces the two-decades old Learn & Serve model. It places an increased emphasis on personal and professional growth and civil engagement as opposed to hours of community service. The three-person team of Fran Boltz, Dr. David Taylor and Patricia Wrobel were responsible for the creation of IMPACT, and both Taylor and Wrobel spoke to those in attendance. Executive Vice President of Niagara University Dr. Debra Colley welcomed dozens of distinguished guests to the breakfast, followed by a prayer initiated by Rev. Raymond Allen of Bethany Missionary Baptist Church.
Niagara University’s new model of Learn & Serve, IMPACT, was officially unveiled Wednesday, Jan. 25. The on-campus event featured a community partner breakfast in St. Vincent’s Hall, a press conference in the all-purpose room of the Gallagher Center and concluded with a celebration of mass. The minds behind IMPACT and community leaders and organizers were among those to speak at the event.
Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University, Sr. Beth Brosmer of the Heart, Love and Soul food pantry and Niagara University senior Dominic Hannon all then voiced their optimism for the future of service learning to those in attendance. Hannon, in his fourth year as a Vincentian Scholar, spoke of his work with the Family & Children’s Service of Niagara, which included creating a wall mural in 2016 showcasing the organization’s 121 years of service to the region.
“The new IMPACT model of service learning is going to lead to more influential change in the community,” Hannon said after speaking at the event. “It’s no longer going to be doing service for the sake of doing it; but rather on the lasting impact that a given project has for a community partner.” Hannon also expressed support for the programs added emphasis on personal and academic experience, and how it can be applied to community service. “With the more career-focused service, it’s going to allow student to more accurately take what they’ve learned in the classroom, and implement it in a real-life setting, allowing them to directly see the worth of their education in the real world.”
“The new learn and serve model certainly reinforces the opinion of mine that as a service provider, and a place where many NU students come to do their community service, we have an obligation to guide students along in a progression towards personal and professional growth,” Assistant Director of Heart, Love and Soul Michael Daloia said following the unveiling of IMPACT. Daloia reiterated a story told by Father Maher at the event, in which St. Vincent de Paul realized charity needed to be organized and meaningful. “I would sincerely hope that service providers will then take the time to talk to students and show how they fit into the larger context of an issue impacting the local community.”
Thomas J. Burns, Associate Vice President for Public Relations, Communications and Marketing, led the press conference. Speakers included Wrobel, Taylor, Niagara University alumni and community organizer William Bradberry and Christian Hoffman, who spoke on behalf of Community Missions of the Niagara Frontier.
More information on IMPACT can be found at levesqueinstitute.niagara.edu/programs/impact