Berkeley College is marking its 80th anniversary with a program that gives back to the community called Berkeley Cares. The program brings students and local organizations together to provide service for many throughout Westchester County.
Cynthia Rubino, campus operating officer in White Plains and vice president of government relations for New York, said, “We are here to educate, but also to make our students work in the world.”
“It is very important to get the students excited about giving back to the community and giving them the tools to serve others," said Melissa Vidam, director of Student Development and Campus Life. She said it is not always easy for students to know where to start when it comes to service.
Marlene Flaherty, student community service coordinator, explained the new requirements for freshmen residents, which include five hours of service. The college has a number of service opportunities available throughout the semester. November is a particularly busy month. With many service activities connected to Thanksgiving, it provides students with a variety of ways to help. One example is Nov. 20, when a group of students will participate in the Salvation Army’s Lend A Hand program.
“One of the most important skills to learn in life is to give back," said Flaherty. “There are outlets for that and it doesn’t take a lot.”
Rubino says the whole campus is participating in a food drive throughout November. The students are coordinating the creation of food baskets to be donated. Students and the college also work each year with local business leaders and high school students on the Business Olympics. Rubino said, “It is so nice to be out in the high schools and really be partnering and seeing them do good work.”
The program will wrap up the semester with the Polar Plunge to raise funds for the Special Olympics. Rubino, Flaherty and Vidam joked that those who still need their five hours will give their service in quite a chilly way.