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Lehigh receives back-to-back national award for community service



Carolina Herndandez

The Community Service Office at Lehigh University recently was named a recipient of the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service efforts and service to America’s communities.

It is the second consecutive year Lehigh received this prestigious honor.

Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll represents federal recognition for a school’s 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.

In receiving this distinction, Lehigh shares honor roll status with a list of institutions that include Carnegie Mellon, the College of William & Mary, Emerson College, Boston College and Notre Dame.

“We’re very honored that our efforts are being recognized, and, more importantly, that the contributions of our students are acknowledged through this award,” says Carolina Hernandez, director of the Community Service Office at Lehigh.

“They are incredibly dedicated and hard working, and they volunteer thousands of hours each year to the local community and beyond. I’m extremely proud of the work they do, and know that they are having a positive impact on the lives of many, many people.”

Hernandez says the students participate in roughly 120 programs a year, which range from after-school tutoring, food drives and service in local soup kitchens to major events such as the annual Spooktacular and Spring Fling programs that draw thousands of local residents to the Lehigh campus.

“They also take part in SERVE trips, which take place over school breaks such as the fall pacing break, the winter break and spring break,” says Hernandez. “Instead of winding down, they travel all over the country to volunteer their time in service to others.”

Adds John Smeaton, vice provost for student affairs: “This recognition for the hard work of so many students at Lehigh is well-deserved. In showing their concern for others in the local community and beyond, these students demonstrate a level of compassion and commitment that is extraordinary.”

Hernandez said that, like much of the work completed through her office, the application process for this award was a true team effort

Lehigh’s Community Service Office was established in the fall of 1996 to provide a coordinated program that would engage students, faculty and staff. The office currently maintains a working relationship with more than 100 local agencies and coordinates several programs each year, including the America Reads and Counts tutoring program for local schoolchildren and the first-year volunteer orientation program.

Stephen Goldsmith, vice chair of the board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees the Honor Roll, says that student volunteers are needed more today than ever.

“College students represent an enormous pool of idealism and energy to help tackle some of our toughest challenges,” he says. “We salute Lehigh University for making community service a campus priority and thank the millions of college students who are helping to renew America through service to others.”

-- Linda Harbrecht


Posted on Wednesday, February 18, 2009

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