October 27, 2020

COAR’s 2020 Box Drive

2020 Box Drive

Community Outreach and Resources’ (COAR) 2020 Box Drive works to serve the children and teens of low-income families in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Boxes will be filled with art supplies, outdoor toys, gloves, hats, etc. and delivered to kids in the community. COAR is working in collaboration with some of our local community partners, such as Hope House and the Thurman Brisben Center to provide an opportunity for UMW faculty, staff, and students to support local families and youth. Although the modality of our annual box drive has changed, our passion to serve Fredericksburg has not gone anywhere. Our presence in the community is more important now than ever before. Please consider picking up a box to fill at the CCE Suite (UC 320) now through November 2nd, open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please email questions to coarumw@gmail.com.

Service Project Takes UMW Students ‘Into the Streets’ to Build Community

From right to left: Caroline Mowdy, Paige Beidelman and Lance Whitesel spread mulch with Tree Fredericksburg on Saturday as part of COAR’s Into the Streets. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

From right to left: Caroline Mowdy, Paige Beidelman and Lance Whitesel spread mulch with Tree Fredericksburg on Saturday as part of COAR’s Into the Streets. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Early Saturday morning, a group of University of Mary Washington students gathered on Ball Circle. Wearing masks and social distancing, they came together on that crisp fall day to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, completing outdoor service projects for Into the Streets. The autumn tradition is hosted by UMW’s COAR (Community Outreach and Resources), whose mission is to provide structural support for community engagement, volunteerism and service.

“At a time when we are all unable to do many of the things that give us joy, satisfaction and focus,” said Leslie Martin, faculty director of UMW’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE),  “volunteering reminds us that we are all still connected and able to work together for the betterment of our shared community.”

The Center, which opened last fall, helps build bridges – and strengthen existing ones – between Mary Washington and organizations in the greater Fredericksburg area. Several of CCE’s community partners are navigating budget cuts and layoffs as a result of the pandemic, Martin said, so “our community needs us now more than ever.” Read more.

Quarantine Can’t Quash UMW’s Spirit of Service

Senior Heather Strother is among the Mary Washington students who are contributing in their communities this summer, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Friends of the Rappahannock volunteer, she’s participating in socially distanced river clean-ups.

Senior Heather Strother is among the Mary Washington students who are contributing in their communities this summer, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Friends of the Rappahannock volunteer, she’s participating in socially distanced river clean-ups.

Maria Rhoads was worried when COVID-19 first hit. But the UMW senior decided fear shouldn’t stop her from serving her community.

“I’m low risk as a young person,” said Rhoads, whose first task as a Medical Reserve Corps volunteer was assisting with safety and sanitation at a local voting precinct. “Because of everything that’s happening in our world, I think it’s important for someone like me to help others.”

While many people are staying home, the pandemic hasn’t paused UMW’s passion for service. From encouraging civic participation to feeding families in need to socially distanced river clean-ups, Mary Washington students and alums are stepping up, using the skills and experiences they’ve acquired in college to give back – both in person and remotely – to their communities.

“Our students went from doing their planned work on campus this spring to recognizing a need to help others in the face of the pandemic,” said Leslie Martin, faculty director of UMW’s Center for Community Engagement. “The ethos of civic responsibility has really taken root, and they’re finding new ways to support their neighbors even in situations of such uncertainty.” Read more.

Eagles Fly High During Virtual Awards Ceremony

Senior Nehemia Abel received the Grace Mann Launch Award during the virtual Eagle Awards ceremony on Friday.

Senior Nehemia Abel received the Grace Mann Launch Award during the virtual Eagle Awards ceremony on Friday.

University of Mary Washington senior Nehemia Abel received the Grace Mann Launch Award during the annual Eagle Awards ceremony, presented virtually Friday evening. This event honors student leaders and outstanding campus organizations. New this year was the James Farmer Defining A Legacy Award.

As one of the emcees for the video awards ceremony, Brianna “Breezy” Reaves put it: “Though we cannot be together, we will come together in spirit. During this very uncertain time, we want to take every opportunity to appreciate everyone who makes UMW the place we like to call home.”

Abel, a first-generation student from Fredericksburg, paid it forward by becoming a mentor with the RISE program (Resources Inspiring Student Excellence). A RISE mentor had helped him adjust to life as a college student, Abel said.

In presenting the Launch Award, Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker described Abel as “an outstanding advocate for change” and an ambassador for “doing the good Grace would have done.” Read more.

Physical Distance & Social Solidarity: Greetings from Center for Community Engagement

A message from the Center for Community Engagement. 

Hi UMW colleagues,

How are you doing? We wanted to reach out, even during this confusing, unsettling, rapidly changing time – because we wanted to share ideas for you – and your students – about staying engaged with community & civic life. Believe it or not, there’s a lot going on that we can still attend to that can help strengthen our communities.

a. Social distancing: Of course the big one, the one on all of our minds, is complying with social distancing recommendations. We aren’t the public health experts – and we are confident you’re already getting this info other places. But as many a circulating Facebook post indicates, doing this work is a powerful form of solidarity.

b. Volunteering, just not in person: There are virtual volunteering opportunities, we’ve attached a document Volunteering in the Time of COVID 19 with some ideas & links on this front. And we have also been collecting suggestions for people who could use some kind words right now. For example – we are still gathering best contact information, but our social networks tell us that some of our residents at the Falls Run Nursing Home would like letters or cards, and there are efforts to send supporting words to our local hospital workers. (Please stay in touch with me or with Sarah if you want updates on this, as we get it.)

c. Supporting our community institutions: Many of our community institutions, including nonprofits and small businesses, need our help. In Fredericksburg:

• Micah Ministries has requested gift cards from grocery stores or cash donations: https://micahfredericksburg.networkforgood.com/projects/95553-covid-19-support. You can mail them gift cards for grocery stores (Giant is best) or donations to purchase them, they are doing that instead of community dinners. Mail them to Micah/Amy Ridderhoff, 226 Princess Anne Street, Fred VA 22401

You can buy gift cards to support local restaurants: Just google the restaurant, and see if they have online gift cards. For example, to help Orofino, visit: https://www.toasttab.com/orofino/giftcards.

d. THE CENSUS!!! As many of you know, Census mailers are arriving at homes right now – in the midst of a lot of change and confusion. We have a list of Frequently Asked Questions to help guide people. And in general, you can go to www.2020census.gov and complete the census on any computer, smartphone, or tablet (click on “If you do not have a Census ID, click here” if needed). Encourage your students, and their parents, to do so, following the guidelines outlined in the Frequently Asked Questions. The most important message: Students are counted where they reside on April 1, 2020 AND spend most of their time, which means that the majority of students should be counted in their college community.

e. Voting: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, voters are being asked for vote using an absentee ballot. If you are voting in the City of Fredericksburg, please follow these steps. For other voting districts, you can follow these directions, but choose your locality when filling out the online form.

f. Community partners, resilience, the awesome power of working together: I just wanted to share some info with you also about how some of our community partners are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. These are amazing groups, struggling with such challenging circumstances. This is in no way representative, but rather a snapshot of a corner of our communities:

*Our local emergency food systems have had to refocus & redirect. Many food pantries have had to close (but please check with the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank as they post a weekly schedule of operating pantries.) And I’m sure you seen the news of how school districts throughout our region – and our country – have worked to provide food to students in need while school is closed.

*People who are homeless – or at risk of becoming so – face particular challenges with social distancing. (Where can you go to be distant, and safe?) There’s been a concerted effort by our local homeless service providers, the Continuum of Care, and the State Department of Housing and Community Development to try to assist efforts to get the most vulnerable people without housing into motels; and to try to keep those only tenuously housed in their places until we come through this crisis.

*And partly to that end, there’s recognition that evictions & foreclosures are especially dangerous right now. The Supreme Court of Virginia declared a judicial emergency, calling for the postponement of non-emergency cases until at least April 6. This means we should not see new eviction filings, notices, etc. – hopefully preventing further vulnerability to homelessness.

This was way too long – please excuse me for carrying on! But these are times when the strength of our communities really shines through – and times when it is even more important to be sure our communities stay strong. Please let us know how we can help.

Best,
Leslie Martin & Sarah Dewees
Center for Community Engagement

Nominate a Student for 2020 Eagle Awards!

Looking for a way to recognize exceptional student leadership on campus?  Every year, the Office of Student Activities and Engagement (SAE) hosts the Eagle Awards gathering in partnership with the Center for Community Engagement.

The UMW Eagle Awards program highlights students, student organizations, staff, and faculty who have provided leadership on campus through involvement in activities and organizations. The Eagle Awards are an opportunity for the University community to recognize those who have made extraordinary contributions to the campus and greater community. There are over 15 awards for students, organizations, and programs.

Any member of the student body, faculty, or staff can nominate deserving students or organizations. Nominations are due by March 11, and the Eagle Awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 16, 2020, at 6:00 PM in Chandler Ballroom. Winners will be announced at the ceremony. The event will offer light hors d’oeurves and is free and open to all students, faculty, staff, friends, and family.

Martin Discusses Eagle Resource Closet on WVTF

UMW first-years work with CCE Faculty Director Leslie Martin to stock the Eagle Resource Closet, a food pantry on the fifth floor of Lee Hall. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Leslie Martin, faculty director of UMW’s Center for Community Engagement and associate professor of sociology, was recently interviewed by WVTF 88.3 Radio IQ about food insecurity among college students and how the Eagle Resource Closet at UMW is addressing this issue.

Many schools around Virginia try to attract students from low-income families with scholarships, grants and loans – but with the cost of living going up, some of those kids run out of cash. That’s prompted universities to open food pantries.

In the attic of an administration building at the University of Mary Washington there’s a large room known as the Eagle Resource Closet. Professor Leslie Martin says you might not know it was there.

“It does provide a lot of privacy,” she explains.

And that’s by design. When the university questioned students they said anonymity was important, and a food pantry was definitely needed.

“We did a survey of students to see how much need there was, and actually almost a quarter of our student population reported being food insecure at some point,” Martin says. Read more.

Thank You for Your Eagle Resource Closet Contributions

UMW first-years work with CCE Faculty Director Leslie Martin to stock the Eagle Resource Closet, a food pantry on the fifth floor of Lee Hall. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Hello, UMW faculty and staff:

We wanted to express sincere gratitude for all of the help you have provided to the Eagle Resource Closet this fall. This was our first formal semester being open (though Gwen Hale and Rita Thompson pioneered this effort and served folks who needed help for ages prior; as do many folks around campus).

You all have donated clothes, food, toiletries, and time. THANK YOU. Students also have been pitching in all of the above. And the Alumni Board, Staff Advisory Council, and Dining Services have all run food drives. Parents have asked how they can help and so have alumni – there is interest and willingness, and we are so fortunate in this.

We also want to let you know about impact. Since we opened the ERC this September, over 100 visits have been made (according to our voluntary sign in sheet). We’ve had pages and pages of people expressing thanks and noting how much they actively need this resource. We echo these thanks.

If you want to make donations of goods – drop them at the Center for Community Engagement – UC Suite 320; we will shuttle them to the ERC. If you’d like to make a $ donation, our foundation account can be found here.

Wishing you all a good break. Looking forward to 2020 with you all.

Leslie Martin
Faculty Director, Center for Community Engagement

Get Involved in COAR’s Head Start Gift Box Drive

It’s time for COAR’s annual Head Start Gift Box Drive! Each year we ask students, faculty and staff to fill boxes full of necessities and toys for children 3 to 5 years old in the Head Start programs in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania schools.

Boxes can be checked out now through Nov. 22 in the University Center Lobby from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. or in the Center for Community Engagement (Suite 320) during normal office hours, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. We can also deliver boxes to you at your office and pick them up as needed. If you would like a box delivered or picked up, please email us at coarumw@gmail.com.

All gift boxes that are checked out will need to be returned by Tuesday, Nov. 26, at 5 p.m.

Required items for the boxes are hats, gloves, scarves, small toys, coloring books, crayons and markers, and small books (all of these items will need to fit inside a shoe box-sized box).

We appreciate your continued support of service at UMW. Thank you and happy holidays!

UMW Students Earn Voter Participation Award

Center for Community Engagement Associate Director Sarah Dewees, A.J. Robinson, Stephanie Turcios and Amber Brown show off UMW’s Platinum Seal award at the 2019 ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Center for Community Engagement Associate Director Sarah Dewees, A.J. Robinson, Stephanie Turcios and Amber Brown show off UMW’s Platinum Seal award at the 2019 ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

On the heels of last week’s statewide elections, UMW received the 2019 ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Platinum Seal for schools with a student voter participation rate above 50 percent. Center for Community Engagement Associate Director Sarah Dewees accepted the award Tuesday with students at a ceremony held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

“I’m proud of our students but not surprised,” said President Troy Paino. “This national recognition reflects just one aspect of the longstanding commitment of Mary Washington’s faculty, staff and students to civic engagement.”

Since its 2016 launch, the challenge, a national initiative, has recognized and supported institutions of higher education in their efforts to achieve full student voter participation, promote an informed electorate and make civic engagement a core value on their campuses. To date, over 6.2 million students and more than 560 colleges and universities have taken the challenge. Read more.