May 21, 2024

Join ‘TeamUMW’ to Support Folks Experiencing Homelessness in FXBG, Feb. 24

The Soc/Anth department has created “TeamUMW” in a local fund & awareness raising walk called the Coldest Night of the Year,” to benefit Micah ministries. We would LOVE to have as many students, faculty & staff walk with us as feel able (and interested). Think of it as both social AND social justice!  And a bit cold, in all honesty.

If you’d like to join us – here are the details:

Date:  Sat, Feb 24, 2024

Time: 4pm check-in; walk at 5; all ending by 7 (snacks and such provided at the end.)

So- if any of you would like to join the team – PLEASE DO! Here’s a link to join our team — and feel free to invite friends!

Benefits: Micah Ecumenical Ministries. This organization works with folks in our community who have been experiencing homelessness for a long time (chronically homeless), or are literally on the street. Micah hosts a day center, a cold weather shelter, a respite facility (for folks leaving a hospital setting, too fragile to return to the street), and provides long-term housing & case management assistance to MANY of our neighbors who have been homeless. They bring a true harm reduction approach to their work, meeting people where they are, and respecting the dignity, autonomy, and gifts of those they work with. (And although they are organizational managed by faith communities, there is no expectation that their guests, volunteers or staff be of any faith background.)

ANYONE can walk with our team without needing to spend/donate a cent. Increasing visibility and support for this work is a super valuable outcome.

Any questions? Comments? Please reach out to Eric ( or Leslie (


The Gwen Hale Resource Center Needs Your Help!

GHRC Clothing Drive

The Gwen Hale Resource Center is serving record numbers of students, thanks to support from across the University. (We have had over 500 visits to the Center this academic year!)

We are running low on a variety of important supplies and would like your help, if you’re able to give it. Here is a list (we update it periodically) of our most needed food and toiletry items.

And we need clothes! If you can spare some (clean, gently used) pants, jeans, professional clothes (especially those traditionally worn by women), warm weather clothes – we would be so grateful!

Donations of food, toiletries and clothing can be dropped off either at the Hale Center (Floor “A” in Lee Hall, using the elevator closest to Monroe) or at the Center for Community Engagement (Suite 320 in the CRUC).

If you’d rather give time than stuff – boy would we love to have you! We regularly need help organizing the Center, staffing Food Bank pop-up markets (twice a month), picking up donations from Giant – and many other possibilities. Just contact us at either or

Please don’t forget that the GHRC is here for any member of the UMW community: please spread the word freely (our hours are Mon-Tues-Fri 1-6 p.m.), and feel welcomed to come and get whatever you may need, as well.

Thanks again for your consistent support of the Gwen Hale Resource Center. Our students truly need and appreciate it.

Upcoming Opportunities for Community Engagement

Happy Spring, everyone!

We wanted to send you some upcoming opportunities to work in and with the community. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions – please let us know.

Wild and Scenic Film Festival: Sat. April 2

In Person @ UMW Outdoor Amphitheater. April 2nd Doors Open at 7 p.m. – Films 8-10 p.m. This festival is one of the largest environmental film festivals in North America and Friends of the Rappahannock is excited to bring it to our community. Learn more here.

Recovery Ally Training: Tues. April 12th

Eagles in Recovery is very happy to offer a Recovery Ally Training on Tuesday April 12th between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The training will be presented virtually by Tom Bannard, Project Coordinator for the Rams in Recovery program at Virginia Commonwealth University and co-facilitated with Jiamie Pyles, the Peer Recovery Support Specialist for UMW’s collegiate recovery program, Eagles in Recovery. Tom developed this training at VCU for faculty, staff, and students who would like to be recovery allies, and the training has been made available to students as well. Register here.

All the best to you –

Leslie Martin
Faculty Director, Center for Community Engagement
Associate Professor of Sociology

Stop Hunger Campaigns Launch

Junior Caitlin O'Leary helps at last year's food drive.

Junior Caitlin O’Leary helps at last year’s food drive.

Stop Hunger University Dining/Sodexo, the University Staff Council, UMW Athletes, and local businesses and churches are partnering together to host our annual Stop Hunger Food Drive, from October 13 through November 1, and they are looking for your support. All of the food and monetary donations will go to benefit the UMW Eagle Resource Closet and the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank.

Anyone wishing to support the drive with food, monetary, or meal plan/Flex donations will find details on the University Dining web site.

Swipe Out Hunger Meal Plan  University Dining/Sodexo has donated 3,600 meals to create a new Swipe Out Hunger meal plan for the benefit of UMW students experiencing food insecurity. This new plan will be administered by the University Host, Chris Porter, with assistance from Leslie Martin, who coordinates the Eagle Resource Closet, Patty Land in the EagleOne Card office, and with Rose Benedict, the University Dining/Sodexo Swipe Out Hunger champion. Chris has established a Google nomination form that students can use to apply for meals through the Swipe Out Hunger meal plan. When approved, these students will have meals loaded onto their EagleOne cards, and they will be able to swipe in at the Top of the UC in the same way all other students who are on meal plans swipe in. There will be nothing in the process that identifies these students as being recipients of meal assistance. All information is kept confidential.

Everyone who has been working to bring this new assistance option to UMW is eager to have any and all students who need nutritional support apply for these meals. Please help spread the word about the availability of this new dining plan to your friends, colleagues and students.

For more information about applying for meals, contact Chris at For more information about the Swipe Out Hunger program and Sodexo’s partnership with that organization, contact Rose Benedict at

If you, or a student you know, would like to apply for meals, please use this LINK.  It will take you directly to the application form.

UMW Faculty Learning Community Publishes Online

Eleven UMW faculty from a variety of disciplines worked together in 2020 as the Advocacy, Deliberation, and Civic Engagement Learning Community. The group was led by Leslie Martin and Anand Rao, representing the Center for Community Engagement and the Speaking Intensive Program. The goal of the group was for the participants to work together to develop course materials that incorporate advocacy and deliberation activities to support civic learning in their courses. Modeled after a similar initiative at VCU, the UMW faculty learning community met through the Spring 2020 semester to study the ways that advocacy, deliberation, and debate, could be used in class, and the faculty then developed materials, including activities, assignments, and rubrics, for use in college classes. The materials were collected and were recently published online through UMW Eagle Scholar. The publication is titled “Supporting Advocacy, Deliberation, and Civic Learning in the Classroom,” and includes contributions from the following faculty: Leslie Martin (Sociology), Anand Rao (Communication), Adrienne Brovero (Communication, UMW Debate), Gonzalo Campos-Dintrans (Spanish, FSEM), Steve Greenlaw (Economics, FSEM), Pamela Grothe (Environmental Sciences), Jason Hayob-Matzke (Philosophy), Jodie Hayob-Matzke (Environmental Sciences), Christine Henry (Historic Preservation), Joseph Romero (Classics), and Andrea Livi Smith (Historic Preservation).

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.

Martin, Majid and Kolar Assist with Fredericksburg VA Main Street Survey

Center for Community Engagement Director Leslie Martin, Associate Marketing Professor Kashef Majid and Psychological Science Professor Dave Kolar recently assisted Fredericksburg VA Main Street with a survey that will be used to develop a “Reboot Downtown! Initiative.” Running through May 11, the survey will help businesses prepare their spaces and staff for important safety considerations when Downtown Fredericksburg does reopen, although there is no set date at this time. 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: 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:

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 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.

Leslie Martin & Sarah Dewees
Center for Community Engagement

Hundreds Depend on College Food Banks (WVTF)