Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Continuing
Education’s students serving the community
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — December 20, 2002 — Aaron Burr of Providence, 31, gave up a nationwide rock-and-roll life to return to school. He works full-time at a restaurant in Federal Hill, takes three college courses at the University of Rhode Island’s Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Continuing Education and helps index the music collection at the Providence Public Library. “It’s the best community service job I could have,” he says.
Burr is one of 352 students who, as recipients of Feinstein scholarships, are required to complete 30 hours of community service per semester whether they take one course or multiple courses. During this fall’s semester students at URI’s ASF-CCE lent their time and talents to nearly 230 non-profit organizations ranging from Scandinavian Home, Rhode Island Blood Center, Providence Children’s Museum, to Roger Williams Park.
The Feinstein scholarships with the community service component have been awarded since the fall of 1999. So far, 874 students have been recipients. That means that at least 26,220 hours (874 x 30 hours) have been spent helping others. Translated into minimum wage ($6.15) dollars, the students contributed $161,253 to the community.
“Thanks to students like these, Rhode Island has the highest percentage of its student body doing community service than any other state in the country,” says Feinstein.
“Community service is a win-win-win proposition. It benefits students, it benefits non-profits, and it benefits the community,” says Joanne DiBello, director of marketing and external relations at the URI Providence Campus where the college is located. “The model has been so successful here that Jane Carlin, the national director for development for Hadassah, and Nava Ben-Zvi, president of the Hadassah College of Technology in Jerusalem, Israel visited me recently to learn how that college could adopt the model.”
At 41, Pedro Mirabal of Central Falls, father of three, works full-time at Retail Store System in Cumberland, takes two night courses to improve his career opportunities, and teaches basic computer skills to South Providence residents for the Urban League of Rhode Island for his community service.
It’s a busy schedule but Mirasal finds the time to mentor inner-city residents. “I feel I’m giving something I have to people who can’t afford it,” he says.
Mary-Ellen Rossi of Cranston has nearly earned her degree in early childhood education. She couldn’t have completed it as quickly without the help of Feinstein scholarships. Rossi volunteers at her son’s daycare, West Bay Children’s Center, where she planned and implemented gross and fine motor activities for different age groups and led large group music and movement activities.
“I will not pretend that it was not taxing to put in the extra hours each week, especially when my course work was piling up, appointments and deadlines had to be figured in, and my family was put on the back burner,” she says. “For a 32 year old, mother of two, full time student and wife, time is extremely valuable. But the pros far outweighed the cons. I would definitely recommend community service to younger college students not only as a way to teach reciprocity, responsibility, and time management, but it could also be a great learning experience if they choose to serve in the area in which they will be working in the future. The contacts I have made and the knowledge that has been shared with me will be of greater benefit to me than my GPA.”
Anyone who would like more information about Feinstein scholarships at the Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Continuing Education should call 277-5162. Summer scholarship award deadline is April 20, 2003. Applications will be available by January 25.