Making a Difference: Community College Students Raise Money for Others
Marcos Diaz started thinking of how he could make a difference in people’s lives the moment he was elected Student Senate president at Nashua Community College two years ago. “When I spoke to friends at other colleges and universities they would tell me about events on campus that were a big tradition,” he says. “I realized that we lacked a tradition, so I wanted to start one that included some form of giving back.”
And so began the Brave Walk/Run 5K that last April raised more than $4,000 to benefit the Nashua Mental Health Center. Although Diaz has graduated from NCC, he remains involved in the event as an AmeriCorps VISTA representative on campus. This year’s race, scheduled for April 25, will benefit Tails to Freedom, a charitable organization dedicated to raising awareness for the protection of animals and the environment.
More than 150 runners and walkers are expected to participate, which translates into a whole lot of work for the 80 student organizers who spend seven months planning the race. As the race date closes in, volunteers will work as many as 20 hours per week on preparations.
“These students are very community minded and dedicated,” says Amy Vazifdar, NCC director of student life. “Nobody is getting paid. All profits go to the charity. It’s all on their own time. There’s a lot of planning involved, a lot of pounding the pavement, making phone calls and reaching out to the community for sponsorships.”
NCC’s students aren’t alone among New Hampshire’s community colleges raising awareness and money for important causes. At White Mountains Community College, the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and the Student Senate host a variety of fundraising events throughout the year, including an annual Christmas party and dinner. Members of the STEM club at Great Bay Community College have made fundraising items to sell to students and faculty, including a key chain FOB with the logo of the New England Patriots.
The Campus Activities Board at Manchester Community College recently organized a dodgeball tournament held in the school’s gym to raise funds to send students to the Give Kids the World Village in Florida. The tournament raised approximately $1,500 of the needed $6,000 to cover flights, expenses and housing. Students will work at the village, assisting hundreds of children facing life-threatening illnesses.
River Valley Community College has come up with an inventive way to provide students in its massage therapy program with hands-on experience in the name of a good cause. For the third straight summer the school’s Massage Therapy Club will host summer clinics for charity. Students and faculty can enjoy a soothing 50-minute massage for only $10. The service is also open to the public for $20. The clinics have raised $10,000 in the first two years for the Hands and Heart Foundation and the Valley Regional Hospital Massage Program Scholarship Fund. This year’s proceeds will go toward creating a scholarship fund for RVCC students.
The clinic is open on Tuesday afternoons from June 2 to July 14, with 28 appointments available each week. It is part of the massage program curriculum, allowing students to work toward the 145 hours of supervised practice required for a state license. Aspiring massage therapists also build stamina, fine-tune technique and body mechanics, and experience working on clients with a multitude of health conditions and body types.
“It’s a rich learning experience,” says RVCC Professor Sue Prasch, Massage Certificate Program Director. “It also helps get the word out that we have a massage program. We’ve gotten students from the clinic.”
More important, as with all these student volunteer endeavors, it gives back to those in need.