Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Paying it Forward

Since moving to the Mohawk Valley over three years ago, I have been amazed at the giving spirit of this community. From nationally recognized events like the Boilermaker and the Great American Heart Walk/Run to local telethons and efforts like Operation Sunshine, the ability of this community to come together and give of its time, talent and resources is inspiring. The faculty and staff at Mohawk Valley Community College are active members of this generous community and, as a result, that same community spirit resides in our college culture as we try to model it for our students.

A little more than two years ago, three staff members Dennis Gibbons, Jeri George, and Ann Popeo joined with Jed Kimball, the then-chair of the Professional Association community outreach committee, to coordinate MVCC’s presence at the Heart Walk/Run. We went from not knowing how many MVCC staff and/or students were participating in the event to having more than 100 participants and raising over $2,000. The event led to the creation of a group named TeamMVCC that has expanded from the original four members to an active standing workgroup at the College. TeamMVCC now coordinates faculty, staff and student participation in community events and fundraising opportunities throughout the year. We are very fortunate to be part of a special place like MVCC and TeamMVCC helps us bring meaning to the power of “paying it forward.”

TeamMVCC’s results this past year reflect the “paying it forward” giving spirit of the Mohawk Valley. Here’s a sample of their work:
• Making Strides against breast cancer – 160 participants raising $4,703 for the American Cancer Society.
• United Way Campaign – 119 donors (increase of 52% from the previous year) with an increase of nearly 40% from the previous year in the dollars raised.
• Salvation Army holiday bellringers – 45 faculty, staff and students ringing that bell!
• Heart Walk/Run – 125 participants raising $3,874
• 13th Annual Ted Moore Run/Walk was the most successful ever with 230 participants (20% faculty and staff) who helped raise more than $7,000 for the Ted Moore Scholarship Fund.
• MVCC Student Congress and TeamMVCC quickly assembled a raffle to raise funds for the American Red Cross Haitian Relief Efforts and raised $3,430.
• Food drives, toy drives, and support for the Special Olympics and World Refugee Day were also highlights throughout the year.

In total, TeamMVCC coordinated the participation of over 400 volunteers and participants; collected over 200 toys for local children; 11 boxes of food for local food banks; and raised more than $68,000 for local charitable organizations.

The importance of community service is making its way into our employee recognition system as well. Our Hawks that Soar! Awards program includes an Aeries Award for the college employee who most exemplifies a commitment and spirit of community service with the $1,000 award from the MVCC Foundation going to the local charity of choice in the name of the recipient. In addition, our Wings of the Hawk teamwork award went to our Welders Among Community student welding club for their incredible commitment to community service. We recently held a special recognition event for our first-ever “MVCC 4-Runners Club” for the 34 staff who contributed to both the MVCC Foundation and United Way annual campaigns and participated in at least two TeamMVCC approved events and the 20 students who participated in at least four TeamMVCC events.

We’ve seen tremendous results over the past year with an ever-increasing presence of MVCC faculty, staff and students in the community. The future is likely to see even more activity with possibilities emerging for new opportunities in service learning and a greater connection to student clubs and organizations. In the larger sense, TeamMVCC provides a wonderful mechanism to see that MVCC faculty, staff, and students continue to reflect and promote the giving spirit of the wonderful people of the Mohawk Valley for years to come. If you have any thoughts on this post, please contact me directly at presblog@mvcc.edu.