Incoming Freshmen to Spend Week in Community Service

News Story: January 17, 2013

SHU’s ‘Community Connections’ Program, Sponsored by People’s United Community Foundation, enters its 14th Year.

Starting Saturday, August 29, 40 incoming Sacred Heart University freshmen will begin college life by participating in Community Connections, an urban outreach program that teaches students the value of leadership and giving back to the community.

The freshmen, along with 12 upperclassmen student leaders and about a dozen faculty and staff, will spend the week at St. Charles Catholic Urban Center and Golden Hill United Methodist Church in Bridgeport. During the day the groups will work to help better the greater Bridgeport community by volunteering with a myriad of established outreach programs.

“The freshman will be introduced to various service opportunities in the surrounding Bridgeport community, which will hopefully increase their understanding of urban issues,” says Dawn Doucette-Kaplan, coordinator of Volunteer Programs at SHU. “Service in the community is an integral part of the mission of Sacred Heart University, and this gives these young men and women a chance to work together to build houses, feed people at the numerous centers and soup kitchens in Bridgeport, and share time with the neighborhood children and parents. Students are exposed to this idea of service during all of their four years here, and hopefully giving to the community becomes an integral part of them when they continue on after college.”

As it has since its inception in 1996, the Community Connections program is being sponsored by People’s United Community Foundation. “The three funding priorities of our Foundation are Community Development, Youth Development and Affordable Housing. This Sacred Heart initiative touches all three of these areas, and we’re pleased to offer our continued support to such a worthy community cause,” said Timothy B. Hodges, associate director of the People’s United Community Foundation.

Incoming freshman Lauren Donovan of Eastchester, NY, did some paint work at the future Habitat for Humanity location on Barnum Avenue in Bridgeport.

Among other activities, the freshmen will be preparing and serving food to the seniors at Harborview Towers; building houses on Maple Street with Habitat for Humanity; cleaning the children’s play area at Caroline House; weeding at Burroughs Community Center Garden; helping in classrooms at Columbus and Johnson Elementary Schools; painting and decorating at Old School Commons; cleaning equipment at Montano Assistive Technology Center; and assisting with serving meals at Merton Center, Bridgeport Rescue Mission and the community suppers programs at St. John’s, St. Luke’s and St. Paul’s Episcopal churches.

Community Connections will commence with a “send-off” service at SHU’s Fairfield campus on Saturday, August 29, at 2:00 p.m. in the Mahogany Room.

On Thursday, September 3, the SHU contingent will host a public cookout as a thank-you to the community. The cookout will be open to all of the people from the programs that the Community Connections participants work with during the week. The theme is “pot luck,” so anyone is welcome to bring food to contribute to the festivities.

The cookout will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on the lawn next to the St. Charles Rectory on the corner of Ogden and Kossuth streets. (In case inclement weather, the picnic will be held indoors at St. Charles.) Entertainment will include games for children, music and a talent show.

“At Sacred Heart, we strive to continue to help the community that’s right next to us,” Doucette-Kaplan says. “The students embrace the community, and in return the community embraces us completely. These students get to know the individuals, which is really important.”

# # #

About People’s United Community Foundation
Established in 2007, People’s United Community Foundation was formed to help support programs and activities that enhance the quality of life for citizens in the communities that People’s United Bank serves. With special emphasis on programs designed to promote economic self-sufficiency, education and improved conditions for low-income families and neighborhoods, the funding priorities of the Foundation include: community development, youth development, and affordable housing.

About Sacred Heart University
Sacred Heart University, the second-largest Catholic university in New England, offers more than 40 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs on its main campus in Fairfield, Connecticut, and satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland. Approximately 6,000 students attend the University’s four colleges: Arts & Sciences; Education & Health Professions; University College; and the AACSB-accredited John F. (Jack) Welch College of Business. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its “Best 371 Colleges: 2010” and “Best Business Schools: 2010” and U.S. News & World Report ranks SHU among the best master’s universities in the North in its annual “America’s Best Colleges” publication. As one of just 23 institutions nationally, SHU is a member of the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ (AAC&U) Core Commitments Leadership Consortium, in recognition of its core, “The Human Journey.” SHU fields 31 division I athletic teams, and has an award-winning program of community service.