USF supports Spanish Community Center

University of St. Francis student volunteers display their award at Joliet’s Spanish Community Center Volunteer Banquet. From left to right: Christina Melesio, Elizabeth Nevarez, Professor Ingrid Goobar-Szleifer, Corbin T. Angeles, Elisabet Miramontes Reyes, Debbie Rios, Ivette Albarran, Nashdira Rueda Galavizz. (Photo by Manuel Hernandez)

University of St. Francis student volunteers display their award at Joliet’s Spanish Community Center Volunteer Banquet. From left to right: Christina Melesio, Elizabeth Nevarez, Professor Ingrid Goobar-Szleifer, Corbin T. Angeles, Elisabet Miramontes Reyes, Debbie Rios, Ivette Albarran, Nashdira Rueda Galavizz. (Photo by Manuel Hernandez)

The University of St. Francis (USF) was recently honored by the Spanish Community Center (SCC) in Joliet for giving the most volunteer hours in 2012. USF was recognized for having both the largest number of volunteers and the most volunteered hours.

The SCC is a 44-year old organization that provides a variety of services to the Joliet community including a food pantry, daycare assistance, immigration services and GED classes, to name a few. USF students provided assistance as one of the requirements of their community based/service learning Spanish classes at USF. The classes are conducted with the future professional in mind and help to bridge academics and community engagement and service.

“A portion of student service hours were required for the students to complete their community-based Spanish class requirements,” said USF Spanish professor Ingrid Goobar-Szleifer (Chicago). “Students received excellent evaluations of their supervisors and exceeded the expectations of the center in terms of the quality and the amount of hours they volunteered.”

During 2012, Goobar-Szleifer’s students including Ivette Albarran(Harvey), Ulises Ornelas(Joliet), Sarah Perkins(New Lenox), Nashdira Rueda Galavizz and Mary Valerugo (Joliet) worked as assistant tutors in SCC’s GED classes, helped in the food pantry, and assisted in other areas filling out forms for clients, providing information about resources and informing visitors about where they could go to obtain specific services. They then developed final projects at the end of the semester, which called for enlisting even more willing students like Christine Doran(Palos Heights), Kristy Garcia(Lynwood), Priscilla Macias(Harvey), Beatriz Martínez(Joliet), Elisabet Miramontes(Cicero), Virginia Rodriguez(Joliet), Ketura Taylor(Cary) and others to help with SCC projects and activities.

SCC Director Elizabeth Nevarez then came to the University of St. Francis campus during finals week to hear the students’ presentations about their volunteer experiences, according to Goobar-Szleifer.

“I am very proud of the students, and it is a well-deserved recognition for them to have others in the community know how well they represent USF through their involvement outside of the traditional classroom setting,” said Goobar-Szeifler. “It is extremely rewarding for all involved: the students feel needed, their skills are valued, our community partners feel the support of the university, the university mission is being embraced, and everybody seems to feel a bit more comfortable in the world.”

Other University of St. Francis departments and employees have also been interested and involved in assisting the Spanish Community Center. Digital Audio Recording Arts (DARA) program director, Jeff Jaskowiak (Joliet), and IT Director Mark Snodgrass (Joliet) worked to replace equipment in USF’s recording studios just before the holidays. With several recording consoles, a controller, cables and four computers with monitors and mice being replaced with newer models, Jaskowiak and Snodgrass made sure USF’s older but still-functioning equipment fell into the right hands.

Remembering the university’s commitment to enhancing its relationship with the Hispanic community, the duo donated the equipment to the Spanish Community Center on behalf of the university. The vice president of the Unity Community Development Corporation (which runs the community center), Jason Almazon, was in the process of creating a recording studio of sorts in the center, and the addition of USF’s equipment made it a “real-deal studio,” according to Jaskowiak.

“The studio is being created to give kids an alternative to the streets. It will give young people the opportunity to create music in an affordable way,” he said.

The University of St. Francis in Joliet serves 3,400 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in arts and science, business, education, nursing and health care and social work. For information, call (800) 735-7500 or visit www.stfrancis.edu.