A Center for Serving, and Learning

A Center for Serving, and Learning

Ex-Campus Ministry staffer eager to lead new volunteerism resource

By Stephen Gawlik
Staff Writer

During his eight years in Campus Ministry, when he led numerous student service and immersion trips to El Salvador, Daniel Ponsetto says he learned how to bring people together for a common cause and, in the process, became an ambassador for Boston College.

Those qualities will serve him well in his new position, says Ponsetto, inaugural director of the Volunteer Service Learning Center (VSLC) that opened its doors this semester.

Volunteer Service Learning Center Director Daniel Ponsetto with his student assistants. (Photo by Suzanne Camarata)
"I'll need to lean on what I learned abroad for my new assignment - yet it's right here at home," said Ponsetto, who worked in youth ministry for the Archdiocese of Boston before coming to Boston College in 1995.

"I am excited about this new challenge and, while I love doing ministry, I am ready for something new."

The VSLC was created to assist Boston College students, staff and faculty who are seeking opportunities to serve in the Greater Boston area or abroad. While many members of the University community perform a significant amount of community service, Ponsetto says his office can help increase and streamline that activity.

"As a Jesuit university, Boston College has a rich tradition of forming women and men who are concerned for the welfare of others," said Ponsetto. "We are serving them by developing a center like this."

By creating a clearinghouse of resources and information, says Ponsetto, the center will act as a one-stop shopping center for interested volunteers.

"When it comes to service, people know what they want to do. Now they will know where they can turn for help.

"For example, if a resident assistant wants to set up a service project for her interested residents but doesn't know how to get organized, she can turn to us for help," said Ponsetto. "Or if a student is interested in working at a home for the elderly but needs to find a place that's near the MBTA, we can help."

In addition to resources available in the office, he says, the center's operation also will be integrated with its Web site, www.bc.edu/vslc, where potential volunteers can search for volunteer opportunities, download forms and interact with the VSLC staff without having to come to the Center.

"The site will be key in that we can tell people they are only a couple clicks away from all the volunteer and service opportunities."

Ponsetto said another of the important VSLC functions will be to provide policies and guidelines for those who wish to serve in foreign nations. That will include informing BC representatives of potential risks in traveling abroad, he added.

"If the State Department issues a travel advisory because of a political situation in a certain country, we have to be prepared to communicate that," he said.

The VSLC also will assist student groups in raising funds for service activities, he said.

"We have some truly dedicated students who have a growing sense of social justice in the world," said Ponsetto. "The thing I get excited about is seeing the transformative power that serving others gives a student and how it informs the other things they will do in their lives.

"We are committed to helping them find an outlet for expressing their deepest commitments and values through service to others."

The Volunteer Service Learning Center can be reached at ext.2-1317.


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