SMCM Named to Presidential Honor Roll for Community Service - Southern Maryland Headline News

SMCM Named to Presidential Honor Roll for Community Service

SMCM students wash fire trucks in Ridge as part of their ongoing community service projects. (Submitted photo)
ST. MARY'S CITY, Md. (Feb. 12, 2009)—The Corporation for National and Community Service announced on Monday that St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) is being honored with a place on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service to America's communities in 2008. Students at St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) donated a total of 14,265 hours of service to local community organizations, like Christmas in April, Bayside Center Nursing Home, and the Ridge Volunteer Fire Department.

"We are so proud of the work our students have done in St. Mary's County," said Dr. Jane Margaret "Maggie" O'Brien, president of SMCM. "Half of the student body at St. Mary's College has freely volunteered their time to better our community. Because of these students, many areas of St. Mary's County community life have benefited, including Walden Sierra, Sotterly Plantation, and Three Oaks Center."

Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a college can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. Honorees for the award were chosen based on a series of selection factors including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

St. Mary's College of Maryland excels in community service clubs, providing student volunteers throughout the county to work on various projects. Last April, for example, the Rotary International-sponsored St. Mary's Rotaract Club's 40 volunteers helped rebuild and repair low-income housing in St. Mary's County as part of Christmas in April. Students and alumni washed siding, repaired window sills, painted walls, replaced gardens, and did yard maintenance. Although St. Mary's Rotaract Club is one of the smallest clubs on campus, the students managed to raise over $15,000 to donate to the Christmas in April Foundation.

For Goodness' Sake (FGS) is an umbrella club at SMCM with 150 students who organize several community service programs during the school year, totaling 3,675 hours of community service. Students volunteer at the Three Oaks Center for homeless men, preparing meals for 30-40 residents, as well as eating and talking with the men. At the Bayside Center Nursing Home, students spend about an hour a week socializing with the residents. SMCM students also volunteer at the Greenwell State park, where they work with the therapeutic riding program which teaches children with developmental disabilities how to ride and care for horses.

Circle K, the largest collegiate community service organization in the world, is also a popular service club with SMCM students. Last year, volunteers worked over 1,000 hours organizing events, like the fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the coin drive for breast cancer research, among other activities. They also raised money at the St. Mary's County Oyster Festival for community youth programs and helped clean up Greenwell State Park.

During New Student Orientation, the office of student activities organized the new "Seahawk Service Saturday," an opportunity for new students to participate in a variety of service projects on campus and in the local community. Off campus, 350 students picked up trash on Mattapany Road, cleaned state vehicles and fire trucks at Ridge Volunteer Fire Department, and helped in the gardens at St. Cecilia's and Summerseat Animal Reserve. At Sotterly Plantation and Greenwell State Park, students helped in the maintenance of the grounds and trails. In one day, more than 700 hours of community service were donated to the county.

"In this time of economic distress, we need volunteers more than ever. College students represent an enormous pool of idealism and energy to help tackle some of our toughest challenges," said Stephen Goldsmith, vice chair of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees the Honor Roll. "We salute St. Mary's College of Maryland for making community service a campus priority, and thank the millions of college students who are helping to renew America through service to others."

The Honor Roll is a program of the corporation, in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation. The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll is presented during the annual conference of the American Council on Education.

Recent studies have underlined the importance of service-learning and volunteering to college students. In 2006, 2.8 million college students gave more than 297 million hours of volunteer service, according to the Corporation's Volunteering in America 2007 study. Expanding campus incentives for service is part of a larger initiative to spur higher levels of volunteering by America's college students. The corporation is working with a coalition of federal agencies, higher education and student associations, and nonprofit organizations to achieve this goal.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that strives to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. The corporation administers Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America, a program that supports service-learning in schools, institutions of higher education and community-based organizations. For more information, go to

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