1,400 students, faculty and staff committed nearly 105,000 hours in 1998-99

Report Details B.C. Community Outreach

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

Nearly 1,400 students, faculty and staff volunteered nearly 105,000 hours in community service in the Greater Boston area during the 1998-99 year, according to a new report released by the Office of State and Community Relations.

"Community Impact 1998-1999: A Report to Boston, Newton and the Commonwealth" details numerous volunteer efforts in the areas of educational services, elder services, health and nutritional services, social services and special events that have involved members of the Boston College community.

According to Associate Vice President for State and Community Relations Paul White, the accounting of volunteer efforts is a conservative one. While voluntarism in the community by BC faculty, staff and students likely is much more widespread, White said, the report lists only those activities his office could identify and verify.

"This report really tells a wonderful story about how the ideal of service is taken by our students," he added. "Boston College students are involved with young people, new immigrants and families. They are academic tutors, they distribute food, and assist the elderly and intellectually challenged, among many other activities. It's a testimony to the drive of our students to fulfill this university's Jesuit ideals.

"It also says a lot about our faculty and staff," White added. "They volunteer to read to local school children, collect toys and clothing for the needy, and give their time in so many other ways."

The report breaks down how many volunteers spent how many hours at each of dozens of placements throughout the Greater Boston area, most of them in Allston-Brighton and Newton. They range from two students who volunteered 64 hours to help run a computer camp for Allston-Brighton children to 40 volunteers who spent 9,200 hours providing academic support and recreational activities to children at the Commonwealth Housing Development in Brighton.

According to the report: 499 Boston College volunteers spent 47,098 hours in educational programs; 198 volunteers put in 40,050 hours in social services; 48 volunteers spent 3,592 hours in health-related initiatives; 28 volunteers committed 2,824 hours in elder services; and 621 volunteers spent 11,290 hours on special events.

Most of the programs listed in the report include at least several hundred volunteer-hours each and service commitments of well over 1,000 hours to individual programs are common.

The report summarizes seven core service and research centers, the work of which comprises a large portion of the volunteer commitments. They include the PULSE Program, the Neighborhood Center, the Center for Child, Family and Community Partnerships, the Integrated Services/Extended Day Program at Allston's Gardner School, the Small Business Development Center, the Center for Corporate Community Relations, and the Center for Work and Family.

The report also details campus resources available to the community, such as the McMullen Museum of Art, Robsham Theater, the Boston Citizens Seminar and the Humanities Series/Lowell Lectures, among others. It also notes that Boston College employs nearly 600 Newton residents, 350 Allston-Brighton residents and 269 Boston residents who live outside Allston-Brighton.

In addition, the report states that Boston College provided 238 grants and scholarships to Newton and Boston residents totaling nearly $3.5 million in 1998-99.

Several community program leaders offered testimonials for the report. Rich Jacobs of the Newton YMCA's Kids Karate Program noted that his group's annual exhibition, which outgrew the Y's facilities, is held in the Conte Forum Power Gym. "BC really does accommodate a lot of Newton people. It's a real service," he said.

Gardner School Principal Catalina Montez noted BC's heavy involvement in her school's Integrated Service Project. "I know the program works because the children are happy here," she said. "They're not anxious to go home. And the teachers tell me they're improving academically."

White noted that the document is the first of two major reports to the community. The second, expected to be released in the fall, will be a detailed analysis of BC's economic impact on the community.

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