By: Alex Bock
Niagara University, N.Y.- Niagara University is a school that continuously strives to instill the values established by St. Vincent De Paul; including the value of giving back to the community and helping out those less fortunate.
Niagara’s IMPACT office, located in Bisgrove Hall, has been a driving force in helping continue the tradition of community service, as well as helping connect students to career-based opportunities. Patricia Wrobel, the Executive Director of the Levesque Institute has been a major catalyst in helping spearhead the revitalization of the greater Niagara Falls area, and was recently recognized for her efforts with the St. Louise de Marillac award for outstanding service.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Wrobel explained. “To be recognized for outstanding service makes us feel great with all of the strides we have made.”
The 2018-2019 year was a banner year all across the board with student involvement in several programs in conjunction with the Levesque Institute; including early childhood, community outreach, health and wellness and the south end initiative.
“Niagara is a mobilizing force in the community,” Wrobel explained. “There has been over 300 properties restored. The word is out!”
That has been a goal of Wrobel’s since the very beginning, and the statistics as far as the growth of these programs is a testament to her and all of the Levesque Institute’s efforts to achieve that goal of spreading the word and getting the NU community involved. In the early childhood program, 521 children received developmental screening, while 115 Pre-School teachers received pyramid model training.
With the south end housing initiative, over 30 community partners and residents are currently involved in the initiative, including 224 volunteers that were involved in the annual Rock the Block event, which generated $73,050 in economic impact value.
In the 2018-2019 school year, there was a 51% growth in skill based service, as well as $1,328,503.49 in total generated in economic impact.
“Crime on the south end is down,” Wrobel mentioned. “If you have a thriving south end, that connects to the rest of the area and the NU community. We had student-volunteers from around the United States. That’s sending a message.”
The work never stops, as the Levesque Institute as well as volunteers are continuously working 365 days a year to continue to help spearhead to growing prosperity in the Niagara region. More homes being restored, as well as the growth and development of several businesses in the area have attracted new residents to the area. While the population in the city of Niagara Falls was on a major decline after industries moved away in the 70s and 80s, the growth of new businesses and homes has the population on a major turnaround.
“The little things matter,” Wrobel stated. “It may look different, but it doesn’t have to feel different.”