Community service efforts narrowed downtown

Community+service+efforts+narrowed+downtown

Starting back in 2010, Gannon University took a step further with community service by creating a new program. The Gannon Alliances to Improve Neighborhood Sustainability, known as Erie-GAINS, has a long-term mission to improve and support the common good of surrounding neighborhoods.

In the years before Erie-GAINS was created, students and faculty were completing more than 80,000 service hours a year. What could happen if efforts became focused on community service?

This program is aimed at stimulating a positive change and improving the areas of downtown Erie and the neighborhoods around the campus.

Efforts are narrowed down to the Waterfront on the north, 11th Street on the south, Parade Street on the east and the Bayfront Connector on the west. This allows for a close and direct area for Gannon students to get to.

This program not only helps the surrounding areas but is aimed at experiential learning such as internships, community service and research. Students are able to learn from their community service experiences.

Ashley Goehring, a junior undecided health sciences major, said that Gannon always has different opporunities to volunteer.

“I think it’s great that Gannon gives so many opporunities to get involved in comunity service,” Goehring said. “Community service allows people to grow spiritually, and become closer with their peers and the Erie community.”

Erie-GAINS focuses on four main clusters: health and wellness, education, business and finance, and environmental sustainability. Each area has its own goals that they aim to achieve.

What makes Erie-GAINS different from other community service organizations is that the partners are brought to the table. They have a voice.

They are not students showing up saying “We are here to help you by doing what we only think you need help with.” Students are there to help on a project that the partners expressed that they needed the extra help.

Volunteering once and helping out is good, but making a lasting relationship is better. One of the many programs is where students are trained to be a mentor and tutor. They then go out and help kids and create that relationship.

Erie-GAINS holds many celebrations, puts on events and makes donations. They support other organizations by celebrating community partners, like helping with the Erie Chamber Orchestra’s MLK Day concert and planting trees with Treevitalize around the area.

Erie-GAINS was a large part of Gannon recently received the 2015 Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching because of the work that it has done with community engagement. It is hosting a community engagement celebration on Feb. 12 to thank all of the partners it has been working with for the past year.

It is easy for students to get involved with Erie-GAINS. Erika Ramalho, director of community and government relations, can get anyone in contact with the organization.

She can be reached by email at [email protected] Also all club leaders, Center for Social Concerns, Gannon faculty and the Center for Experiential Learning can help students become involved.

 

KAT SHINDLEDECKER

[email protected]