Corporation for National and Community Service
The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll
General Community Service Presidential Award
March 4, 2013
With a community-based engagement program dating back to 1991, Gettysburg College prepares its graduates to be “active leaders and participants in a changing world.” Students don’t have to go far to see firsthand this changing world—or be a positive force in it.
With solid campus-community partnerships, students and faculty at Gettysburg College are able to work together with community members to meet needs and develop relationships.
For example, one in every four families in Adams County is food insecure. Through food justice initiatives, Gettysburg has helped build the capacity of the first Food Policy Council in the state, rescued food and redistributed it as nutritious meals on a daily basis, produced research and videos about the 'food gap' in Adams County and helped to implement an innovative initiative called "Healthy Options" to provide vouchers and education to families looking to increase their access to healthy fruits and vegetables.
Gettysburg students also support Adams County’s migrant farmworkers. For over 25 years, students have provided one-on-one after-school tutoring and ESL lessons and coordinated a soccer league, swimming lessons, and fall festivals that celebrate the harvest. “It’s not the traditional notion of helping those who are less fortunate,” says Kim Davidson, Interim Director of the Center for Public Service. “It’s more of a partnership.”
For instance, migrant workers photographed their lives and exhibited their works in a show, “Retratos/Portraits,” that has traveled across Adams County. "We are telling the truth with these pictures," Oscar Lopez, a migrant worker whose work was highlighted, told The Evening Sun, a local newspaper that covered the show. "The truth is that we are hard workers. We are the people who bring food to the table.” Faculty and student support helped make this project a reality.
Another area in which Gettysburg has a longtime commitment is the education of local elementary and high school students. Today, more than 370 Gettysburg students provide mentoring and tutoring services to young learners, 70 percent of whom are living in poverty. It’s an experience these Gettysburg students will carry on to their future careers: Eighty-five percent are involved in K-12 education programs.
At Gettysburg College, 72 percent of students engage in community service—and the students themselves are a big part of the reason why. During the school year, 22 students each work nine hours a week to connect their peers with projects developed through engagement with community organizations and faculty who are using service learning in the classroom.
“Students are the energy, and they’re the ones who make it all happen,” says Kim Davidson.