May 29, 2020

Eagles Fly High During Virtual Awards Ceremony

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” […]

Virtual 2020 Eagle Awards Ceremony on Friday April 24th

A global pandemic won’t stop UMW from recognizing its student leaders. Staff and students from Student Activities and Engagement (SAE), the Center for Community Engagement, and the James Farmer Multicultural Center (JFMC) announced that they will be holding a virtual Eagle Awards Ceremony on Friday April 24th at 5pm via a video on the SAE YouTube Channel. 

“The Eagle Awards are an important way to recognize the hard work of our students outside of the classroom as they lead clubs, work with other organizations, and coordinate with other students to carry out events and activities,” shared Crystal Rawls, Assistant Director of SAE. “We wanted to make sure we could recognize the accomplishments of our students.”

The 2020 Eagle Awards video will feature quotes from the faculty, staff, and students who submitted winning nominations. Students Breezy Reeves and Kyree Ford will be MCs. Among the awards being announced will be the Grace Mann Launch award, recognizing a graduating senior who is active in promoting social justice, equality, and positive social change.

“Now is an important time to share the story of our impressive UMW students,” stated Sarah Dewees, Associate Director of the Center for Community Engagement. “The Eagle Awards recognize student commitment to student life, social justice, diversity, and community engagement. Now is a great time to showcase the ways in which UMW students are models of responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.”

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.

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. 

UMW Students Earn Voter Participation Award

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 today with students at a ceremony held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. “I’m […]

Service Project Takes UMW Students ‘Into the Streets’

UMW students gathered in front of the University Center Saturday morning before heading to service projects throughout the Fredericksburg community. Nearly 200 students participated in various volunteer activities throughout the city. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

UMW students gathered in front of the University Center Saturday morning before heading to service projects throughout the Fredericksburg community. Nearly 200 students participated in various volunteer activities throughout the city. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Early Saturday morning, a wave of 200 blue shirts emblazoned with the words “Little ripples make big waves,”stretched out across the front of the University Center. Wearing the shirts were UMW students gathered for Into the Streets, one of six annual events hosted by UMW’s COAR (Community Outreach and Resources), whose mission is to provide structural support for civic engagement, volunteerism and service.

Into the Streets offers students an array of volunteer opportunities – from landscaping to car washing – and a chance to check out Fredericksburg along the way.

“The goal is to encourage students to explore community service, get to know more about the area where we live, and to give back to the community,” said Sarah Dewees, associate director of UMW’s Center for Community Engagement. Read more.

Center for Community Engagement Opens at Mary Washington

Mary Washington freshmen team up with Tree Fredericksburg to mulch trees as part of the CCE’s Day of Service. Photo by Matthew Binamira Sanders.

Mary Washington first-years team up with Tree Fredericksburg to mulch trees as part of the CCE’s Day of Service. Photo by Matthew Binamira Sanders.

On a late August day, Mary Washington first-years were scattered throughout Fredericksburg, mulching gardens, planting trees and cleaning up along the Rappahannock River. Others cared for animals at the SPCA and worked on projects to help area seniors, sexual assault survivors and deployed service members.

These efforts were made possible by UMW’s new Center for Community Engagement (CCE), which officially launches today. Housed in the University Center, it will build bridges – and strengthen existing ones – between Mary Washington and the greater Fredericksburg area, showcase civic and community engagement opportunities and foster partnerships that enhance student learning and encourage positive social change. The Center fits into a larger national movement to make community engagement a top priority in higher education institutions.
Read more. 

Center for Community Engagement Opens at Mary Washington

On a late August day, Mary Washington first-years were scattered throughout Fredericksburg, mulching gardens, planting trees and cleaning up along the Rappahannock River. Others cared for animals at the SPCA and worked on projects to help area seniors, sexual assault survivors and deployed service members. These efforts were made possible by UMW’s new Center for […]

Sarah Dewees: Helping Hand

Sarah Dewees, associate director of the Center for Community Engagement, which formally launches Sept. 9. Photo by Suzanne Rossi.

Sarah Dewees, associate director of the Center for Community Engagement, which formally launches Sept. 9. Photo by Suzanne Rossi.

If universities were sorted into Harry Potter houses, Sarah Dewees knows where Mary Washington would land.

“I think of UMW as the Hufflepuff of small liberal arts colleges. Our students have a passion for working in the community, volunteering and making the world a better place.”

While she considers herself a bookish Ravenclaw, Dewees’ dedication to service and volunteerism – and her background in academia and nonprofit work – make her well-suited to be the associate director of the Center for Community Engagement (CCE), which officially launches next week, on Monday, Sept. 9.

Housed in the University Center, CCE promotes civic and community engagement, and supports faculty who are already integrating these types of opportunities into their teaching and research, and those who wish to start. Inspired by President Troy Paino’s strategic vision, Dewees and her CCE colleagues have developed a civic action plan to further the work currently being done in the Fredericksburg area by UMW students and staff.

Dewees and others at CCE have already been helping students think about ways they can serve others – from taking a community engaged class to voting and volunteering. With Virginia’s upcoming elections, CCE is focused on civic participation and will host a National Voter Registration Day on Ball Circle Sept. 24.

“At Mary Washington, we have a tradition of working in and with our communities,” said Dewees, who holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Kentucky. She also manages UMW Votes, Alternative Service Breaks and COAR – Community Outreach and Resources – the student-run organization inspired by the late Mary Washington professor and civil rights icon James Farmer.

“We’re lucky to have Dr. Farmer’s legacy here. He taught us that social justice includes both organizing and good works.”

 

Sarah Dewees, associate director of the Center for Community Engagement, which promotes civic and community engagement, and supports faculty in integrating these types of opportunities into their teaching and research. Photo by Suzanne Rossi.

Sarah Dewees, associate director of the Center for Community Engagement, which promotes civic and community engagement, and supports faculty in integrating these types of opportunities into their teaching and research. Photo by Suzanne Rossi.

Q: Where did you volunteer as a college student?
A: I worked on many political campaigns – handing out literature, knocking on doors and encouraging people to vote. I also interned at nonprofits, including the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, which published the book “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”

Q: What brought you to Mary Washington?
A: My husband, Steve Hanna, has worked at Mary Washington as a geography professor since 1997, and I later joined him here.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Seeing the passion of UMW students.

Q: The most challenging?
A: There are so many opportunities and ideas for getting involved that finding a focus can be overwhelming.

Q: What in your office means the most to you?
A: A Mother’s Day card my son made me when he was 9. It’s now faded, but I still love it.

Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: Everything downtown Fredericksburg has to offer – strolling the streets, coffee at Hyperion, kayaking on the Rappahannock and biking the Heritage Trail.

Q: Did you do anything fun this summer?
A: I visited the Musical Crossroads exhibition at the National Museum of African American History and Culture and saw the P-Funk Mothership. That was pretty amazing.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.