October 29, 2020

Day on Democracy Encourages Voting and Civic Engagement

Ashley Utz was a freshman at the University of Mary Washington when she registered to vote. To cast her ballot, she needed to find time during her busy class schedule and figure out which polling place was hers. “My inexperience with the voting process made it all the more challenging,” said Utz, now a senior, […]

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.

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

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 […]

Voter Registration Day Event Gives UMW Students a Voice

Callie Jordan remembers everything about her first election at age 18 – the poll workers excitedly handing her a ballot, penciling in the little circles to mark her choices and getting an American flag sticker to show the world that she had voted. But what she remembers most is feeling empowered. “I felt valued by […]

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.

Quarantine Can’t Quash UMW’s Spirit of Service

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 […]

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