NWC honored for hurricane relief

Northwestern College has been named to the first President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for distinguished community service in recognition of extraordinary volunteer efforts by the school and its students. Northwestern was cited for its efforts to serve Gulf Coast communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Northwestern and 140 other institutions of higher education were recognized for distinguished service among the nearly 500 schools named to the President’s Honor Roll. Schools receiving distinguished service recognition provided exceptional community service over the past year, contributing their time, resources, energy, skills—and intellect—to serve America.

“Northwestern has set a strong example for college-level civic engagement,” says Stephen Goldsmith, chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that works to foster a culture of volunteering and service in America. “Many people and communities have been improved because Northwestern and its students identified some of society’s most pressing needs and got involved.”

 “This recognition is a testament to the mission of Northwestern College and the kind of students we have,” says Dave Nonnemacher, Northwestern’s director of service learning. “Northwestern has a long tradition of service during winter, spring and summer breaks, and it’s an honor to see the students’ commitment to help others recognized by a national agency.” 

Last year, 81 Northwestern students were involved in service projects in New Orleans and Jackson, Miss., over the winter and spring breaks. Providing 3,840 hours of service, they participated in demolition, debris removal and sanitization work in devastated neighborhoods. They also sorted donations provided by various ministries, participated in after-school programs, worked in a medical clinic and raised an additional $1,600 for two New Orleans ministries’ relief efforts.

Northwestern will send two more service teams to Louisiana this December. Over spring break next March, three groups will provide hurricane relief in New Orleans and Jackson. At one New Orleans site, 10 Northwestern theatre students will create a drama to tell the stories of those who survived Katrina.

The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll is co-sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, USA Freedom Corps, and the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. The recognition is presented in cooperation with Campus Compact, a national coalition of nearly 1,000 college and university presidents, and supported by all the major national higher education associations.

A new study, using data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that college student volunteering increased approximately 20 percent from 2002 to 2005, and that 3.3 million college students are involved in service activities. The study showed that college students between ages 16 to 24 are more likely to volunteer than cohorts in that age group who are not enrolled.

Observers have attributed the growth in student service to several causes: the proliferation of high-school and college service-learning classes; an increase in the number of campus offices that link students to volunteer opportunities; and the lingering impact of the September 11 and Hurricane Katrina catastrophes.

The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll provides more evidence of increased student civic engagement. More than 1.1 million students from Honor Roll schools participated in local community service activities, with over 219,000 of those providing hurricane relief. College students committed nearly 2.3 million service hours volunteering in Hurricane Katrina relief.

A total of 492 institutions were named to the first Honor Roll. Those schools reported a variety of service activities, including mentorship programs for foster children, literacy tutoring for preschool children in underserved communities, medical and other professional services, homebuilding through Habitat for Humanity, and neighborhood cleanup programs. The value of services provided by Honor Roll colleges and students was approximately $87 million.