Friday, August 21, 2009

Reaching the North Shore and Greater Boston Area through Service

For the last six years Val Buchanan, director of the Gordon in Lynn program, has been forging relationships between Gordon College and the City of Lynn. This fall, though, the Office of Community Engagement (OCE) will officially launch with Buchanan at the helm, expanding her work from Lynn to the North Shore and Greater Boston.
The office’s purpose is to create, organize and support programs of service learning and community outreach, furthering the mission of Gordon College “to graduate men and women distinguished by intellectual maturity and Christian character, committed to a lifestyle of service, and prepared for leadership roles worldwide.” Students, faculty and staff work within mutually beneficial community-based partnerships, the majority of which are in Lynn but also across the North Shore and Greater Boston area. Gordon college is one of the few Christian colleges outside of Boston so we're able to do activities like this. OCE seeks to foster healthy relationships with neighboring communities while developing faithful student leaders through guided civic engagement.
“Students who come to Gordon want to work toward empowering people, alleviating poverty, addressing social concerns, welcoming the immigrant, advocating for those who cannot speak for themselves, and visiting the sick,” says Buchanan. “Students want to not only make this impact in the future; they want to start now while they are in college. This is faith in action! My hope is that the Office of Community Engagement serves as a place of connection and support for all students, staff and faculty who wish to engage in service and learning all over the Greater Boston area.”
The Office of Community Engagement includes the following:
Gordon in Lynn (GIL)
Gordon in Lynn focuses on weekly academically based service-learning (ABSL) opportunities, primarily through the freshman Great Conversation service-learning classes. In addition, GIL continues to expand its ABSL work with faculty and students in upper-level classes through various contextual research projects, experiential learning opportunities, and internships. Finally, GIL continues to oversee Barton Hall, a living/learning community focused on the intersection of community, faith, and urban engagement.
Community Outreach Ministries (COM)
COM assists students leading their peers in volunteer service. These cocurricular opportunities are available throughout the entire North Shore and Greater Boston area, including Lynn. COM currently has six student-led ministries, although the number of student ministries each semester depends upon student initiative.
College Bound
College Bound is an educational/enrichment program for children from Lynn’s Curwin Circle, a subsidized housing development. Gordon students tutor and mentor children from kindergarten through middle school. College Bound partners with the national federal work-study program America Reads.
Advocacy and Awareness
OCE supports students, faculty and staff engaging in social justice causes through raising awareness and advocacy efforts. This could include hosting speakers, concerts, films or one-time service projects.
Networking
OCE is the campus liaison for Massachusetts Campus Compact. MACC is a coalition working to make higher education institutions vital agents of civic renewal. Through MACC, OCE administers two national educational awards. These service-for-scholarship programs include AmeriCorps VISTA and Student Leaders in Service.

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