Democracy House, the Center for Civic Engagement at Middlesex County College, was named to the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Among other missions, Democracy House performs thousands of hours of community service each year. The award was presented by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
“As members of the class of 2011 cross the stage to pick up their diplomas, more and more will be going into the world with a commitment to public service and the knowledge that they can make a difference in their communities and their own lives through service to others, thanks to the leadership of these institutions,” said Patrick A. Corvington, chief executive officer of CNCS. “Congratulations to Middlesex County College and its students for their dedication to service and commitment to improving their local communities. We salute all the Honor Roll awardees for embracing their civic mission and providing opportunities for their students to tackle tough national challenges through service.”
Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. Honorees for the award were chosen based on a series of selection factors including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.
Democracy House began in 1995, and its direct service program brings together nearly 40 students per year who work to better the community. They serve food at area soup kitchens and community cafes, act as big brothers and sisters to children in after school programs, supervise entrepreneur programs for middle school students, and mentor Latino high school students in college preparation. The students each spend at least 300 hours per year working on community service projects.
They are not alone. On campuses across the country, millions of college students are engaged in innovative projects to meet local needs, often using the skills learned in classrooms. In 2009, 3.2 million college students dedicated more than 307 million hours of service to communities across the country, service valued at more than $6.4 billion.
It takes lots of work to open a summer camp, and students from Democracy House at Middlesex County College were up to the challenge. On May 14, they traveled to Harriman State Park in New York State to help the YMCA of Greater Bergen County open Camp Michikamau, a children’s camp. The group swept cabins, moved beds, and pried boards from windows, among many other tasks. Democracy House is Middlesex County College’s service learning program that promotes volunteer community service. Seated, from left: Shawn Zwonar, Millicent Bustria. Standing, from left: David Guillaume, Roneil Balani, Kimberly Cockinos, Ariel Furlong, Tom Garcia, and Karolina Mrowiec.