YSU recognized for community outreach

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Diane Doddato (left) and Candace Madden, members of the SNLO, help plant during the Williamson College of Business Administration’s Dare to Care Day. Photo courtesy of Laura McCaskey.

A vast array of community service projects, organized by members of the Youngstown State University community, have earned the school its third straight spot on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The honor roll is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its overall involvement in three areas: volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.

YSU’s service was diverse, with community service projects ranging from

Academic Achievers, a partnership with Warren G. Harding High School, to the Leslie H. Cochran University

Scholars and Honors

Program’s Shantytown.

Laura McCaskey, director of the Center for Nonprofit

Leadership and cowriter of the award application, said YSU was deserving of the award.

“I was happy to be a part in helping YSU faculty, staff and students receive the recognition they deserve for their outstanding work in serving our community,” McCaskey said.

Students involved with the Student Nonprofit Leadership Organization are required to perform a minimum of 15 hours of community service each semester, McCaskey said.

In addition to five major service projects throughout the year, the Pay It Forward: Strengthening Communities through Student-Led Philanthropy program was a favorite among the students.

It allows students to learn about philanthropy by awarding grants to local nonprofit organizations.

“We are simultaneously learning about the grant-making process as we are enabling community organizations to achieve their goals,” said Kayla Boye, secretary of the SNLO leadership team.

The University Scholars and Honors Program has its own yearly service project.

It’s known as Shantytown, a large-scale event in the fall to help raise awareness and money for the homeless.

Since Shantytown started 18 years ago, almost $36,000 has been raised through food, money and personal needs items. In addition to fundraising, the volunteers are required to spend the day at a local charity.

This past year, students set up cardboard boxes in which to spend the night.

Junior Sarah Waldinger has participated in Shantytown for the past three years. She said the mandatory volunteering is important, as it serves as a feeder system for permanent volunteers.

Waldinger said her favorite aspect of Shantytown is sleeping outside.

“It gives the volunteers a unique perspective of the homeless,” Waldinger said.

Amy Cossentino, assistant director of the honors program, has been working with Shantytown since its inception. She said it’s more than just a great opportunity to give back to the community.

“It really helps to connect students to the community in a really positive way, as well as connecting the students to each other. It’s a long-standing tradition within the program,” Cossentino said.