Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of profiles of 2015 Work Study Supervisor of the Year nominees. The winner will be announced at a luncheon Wednesday, April 15.
More than three years ago, senior Savannah Fuller became a work-study student in the Community Service Resource Office as a Community Service Advocate.
In that time, Fuller said her work-study supervisor, Valerie Webster, co-curricular and community service coordinator, has pushed her to think outside of the box and find new ways to reach out to others.
“Upon accepting this job three years ago to help pay for college, I had no idea the true wealth I would gain from Valerie,” said Fuller. “We have established a strong working relationship, and she is a phenomenal work-study supervisor.”
Fuller said that Webster has instilled in her an intrinsic motivation to help others.
“Valerie has helped me grow into a better person, and I will never be able to thank her enough for that,” said Fuller, who is nominating Webster for a second time. “I attribute the success of [the Community Service Resource Office] programming to Valerie’s unwavering commitment to her community and desire to do better for the people within it.”
In fact, as a result of “countless hours” of brainstorming sessions with Webster, Fuller said she has helped “improve our community projects to better benefit others.”
“Over the years, we have added new community service projects, made new and lasting contacts in the community, and have doubled—even tripled—participation and donations on campus for our projects,” said Fuller. “Valerie’s dedication to her employees and work-study programs is beyond admirable.”
In addition to supervising the Community Service Advocates, Webster oversees Big Brothers Big Sisters, the New Student Orientation mentors, and off-campus tutors.
“As a supervisor, Valerie provides each of us with appropriate guidance and leadership to help us grow and be successfully independent in our roles as work-study students,” said Fuller. “No matter what challenges life presents Valerie with, she has always given her work-study students 100 percent.”
After commencement, Fuller believes that the friendship she and Webster share, as well as the dedication to each of their communities, will last beyond her work-study position and long after her graduation from Keuka College.
Added Fuller: “The impact Valerie has had on my life, and the lives of countless other students, is invaluable and transcendent. Valerie has a way of changing student’s lives for the better.”
The late American educator Mary Ellen Chase once said “Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind.”
And the Christmas state of mind was evident in the number of ribbons and bows that adorned the bags and boxes for 38 children receiving gifts though Keuka College’s Angel Tree Project. The gifts for the children were wrapped and delivered to the Child and Family Resource Center in Penn Yan Monday, Dec. 3, where Santa Claus was on hand to give the gifts to the children.
“Angel Tree gives the College a way to do community service,” said Valerie Webster, community service advocate adviser and co-curricular transcript coordinator. “It makes people stop and realize how important it is to help others, and to understand the true meaning of the holidays.”
Freshman Mary Leet agrees.
“[Helping others at] Christmas feels more like Christmas when you give, rather than receive,” said the visual and verbal art major from Stanley, who also serves as a community service advocate.
A community service staple and College favorite, the annual Angel Tree Project is designed to make the holidays a bit brighter for area children in need. Students, staff, and faculty select a paper angel from a Christmas tree. The angel contains a child’s age and gender, and a suggested gift of toys, clothes, or both.
Savannah Fuller, a junior occupational science major from Philadelphia and community service advocate, said Christmas “is a time to cherish all kids, and by choosing an angel from the tree, I felt good knowing I helped make a child’s Christmas brighter.”
Webster said two clubs—Rotaract Club and Drama Club—bought gifts for two families. The clubs combined to give the families necessity items including cleaning supplies, laundry supplies, towels, and pots and pans.
Rotaract Club member Brittany Gleason, a sophomore mathematics and management major from Carthage, says “the club is all about community service, and we feel good knowing that a family is getting things they need that they might not otherwise be able to get.”
Added Webster: “The Angel Tree Project gives everyone a chance to have those wishes we all have. And it gives the community of Yates County insight into the giving spirit of Keuka College students.”
Students in Heather LaBarr’s Head Start (Penn Yan) class got a head start on Easter April 5.
Students, faculty, and staff at Keuka College donated toys, bubbles, stuffed animals, and other Easter basket goodies for LaBarr’s class and the Head Start program in Dundee.
The Community Service Resource Center in the Center for Experiential Learning and the Class of 2015 coordinated the Easter Basket Project, a College tradition since the mid-1990s. The baskets were then given to the Dundee and Penn Yan classes.
On hand to help distribute the baskets were Rebecca Allen, a freshman unified childhood/special education major from Oxford; Samantha Chesnut, a freshman sociology and political science major from Mexico, who serves as president of the Class of 2015; Nikita Wilkins, a freshman biology major and a community service advocate in the Center from Bloomfield; Katelyn Armstrong, a freshman psychology major from Jamestown; Junelle King, a senior organizational communication major and community service advocate in the Center from Ithaca; Savannah Fuller, a freshman occupational science major and community service advocate in the Center from Philadelphia, N.Y.; Jamie Allen, a freshman psychology major from Canandaigua; Ella Smallwood-St. Denis, a freshman social work major from Canandaigua; Vince Glanville, a freshman psychology major from Capetown, South Africa; and Willie Jones, a freshman occupational science major from Rochester.
For many members of the Keuka College community, performing community service comes naturally.
So, when the opportunity arises to help those in need, these folks respond in a big way, especially at holiday time. This year, the Keuka community spent much of November collecting clothes and toys for area children and their families for the Angel Tree Project.
A community service staple and College favorite, the Angel Tree Project is conducted annually, with students, staff, and faculty selecting a paper angel from a Christmas tree. The angel contains a child’s age, whether they are male or female, and if they need clothes, a new toy, or both. There were four angels per child.
“The Angel Tree Project is an opportunity to give to less fortunate local children during the holidays,” said Valerie Webster, community service advocate adviser and co-curricular transcript coordinator. “We always have wonderful participation from the entire campus.”
Those who chose an angel purchase a Christmas gift for that child. Ages of the angels ranged from 11 weeks to 12-years-old. After making a purchase, angels are returned to the Center for Experiential Learning where the gifts are wrapped. The gifts are delivered to children and their parents at the Child and Family Resource Center in Penn Yan.
According to Webster, the Angel Tree project helps the Child and Family Resource Center by “reducing the burden of having to get some of the donations needed to help the families in the county.”
Webster said four College clubs– Rotaract, Drama, PRIDE, and Chi Beta Pi Honor Society–bought gifts for an entire family.
“Rotaract, and Chi Beta Pi combined to give gifts to a family of 11 and Drama Club took on a family of six,” she said. “PRIDE helped with the overall project.”
Said Webster: “It is a good event because who doesn’t love Christmas and children?”
For the second straight year, a Keuka College student will be recognized by the greater Rochester community for her commitment to social responsibility.
Jennifer Bush, a senior from Endwell, will receive the 2010 Student Standout Award at a ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Rochester. She follows Chelsea Bango, a 2010 Keuka graduate, who received the award in 2009.
“It is a great honor to be nominated, but one that I am surprised to receive because community service is not something I do for recognition,” said Bush. “It is something I love, and I see community service as a way to give back to others who are in need.”
Bush is one of two college students selected to receive the award, which recognizes a strong commitment to the local community through volunteer human service activities and the promotion of volunteerism among peers.