Nov 262012


By Jay Clark/ECU News ServicesAyanna Williams, 7, reacts to guidance from Shanan Dahlka, an ECU art education student, during an afterschool class at the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Center. The university was presented a national service award Nov. 12 for its continued work at the center.

By Jay Clark/ECU News ServicesAyanna Williams, 7, reacts to guidance from Shanan Dahlka, an ECU art education student, during an afterschool class at the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Center. The university was presented a national service award Nov. 12 for its continued work at the center.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Teacher Vardina Harrington seized the moment with a lesson on awards in the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center afterschool program.

“What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘award?’” asked Harrington, a 2011 East Carolina University graduate.

The third- and fourth-grade students raised their hands with answers: a prize, achievement, awards day.

“If you’ve won an award, you’ve done something great and people want to acknowledge you,” she said. And then Harrington told them.

ECU won the prestigious C. Peter Magrath University/Community Engagement Award for its establishment and support of the center in the underserved west Greenville community. The award, and a $20,000 stipend, honors the work and programs of the intergenerational community center, a partnership with West Greenville residents, ECU, the city of Greenville and Pitt Community College, that provides a comprehensive community-based system of service and care to residents.

The competitive national award is presented annually by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. ECU was one of four finalists from a field of thousands.

The community leads the work of the center, according to those involved.

“It’s not dictating and telling them what their needs are, but allowing the community to tell us what their needs are,” said Shawan Sutton, director of the center’s health and wellness program, IGCC Fit.

ECU’s community engagement work with residents and at the center provides the perfect vehicle to accomplish the university’s mission as a model for public service and regional transformation with the motto ‘servire,’ or to serve, said Dr. Beth Velde, director of ECU’s public service and community relations.

“At places like the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center, our students’ learning does not shut off when they leave our classrooms,” Velde said. “Our students experience real learning in real situations from community members. Community engagement fosters student success and those students who are involved leave ECU with great job skills and the knowledge necessary to be good citizens.”

The center was conceived by a faculty member in the ECU School of Social Work, the late Dr. Lessie Bass, and implemented by Bass and her colleague, Deborah Moody, in 2007.

Two of the 14 programs hosted at the center were recognized specifically in the award citation:

  • The Youth Apprentice Program, which prepares juvenile offenders or at-risk youth to continue their secondary education, has seen all 33 participants either return to high school or earn a GED. Six are enrolled in college now.
  • The YES! 21st Century project, a summer program designed to improve math and reading skills of third through fifth graders, helped 97 percent of participants improve their math skills in 2011, while 20 percent improved their reading skills.

Moody, now director of programs, and executive director Kerry Littlewood and others were in Denver on Nov. 12 to accept the award.

“The center was chosen because it embodies the tenets of community engagement: reciprocity, mutual benefit, equal power and responsibility,” Velde said. “It grew out of the belief that communities and ECU can transform communities and address complex issues when we work together.”

The center is an extraordinary example of collaboration and partnership, said Dr. Tom Irons, who co-chairs the IGCC board with retired social worker and community member Gracie Vines.

“The secret is the community is in the lead,” said Irons, associate vice chancellor for health sciences and professor of pediatrics in the Brody School of Medicine. “It’s a constant ongoing communication. The university has learned to let the community lead and let the community engage in a meaningful way that is productive for both.”

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said the award is significant because it is national recognition for the university’s mission and commitment to service.

“Service and engagement are in our DNA at East Carolina University,” Ballard said.

Littlewood estimated about 75 ECU faculty members and 300 ECU students work and volunteer at the center each year.

“The center has many important relationships with just about every college on campus,” said Littlewood, who is assistant professor of social work in the College of Human Ecology.

Her students in social work engage community members to design programs and write grants to meet community needs. Students in elementary art education in the College of Fine Arts and Communication work on art projects with youth. The Brody School of Medicine is involved in a study of African-American women with Type 2 diabetes.

“Having the center here allows the community to come together and learn from one another, build a relationship with each other and provide security and support for each other,” Sutton said. “I live and work in this community so I know the positive impact it has.”

Seniors and youth support each other, for example, in the center’s community garden, or with computer training.

“It’s amazing the connection. It’s truly intergenerational,” Sutton said. “When people speak of the programs, they are proud to say ‘I’m a part of that.’”

One of the newest programs, IGCC Fit, is funded by Kate B. Reynolds Foundation. Sharon Mallette, clinical associate professor in the ECU College of Nursing, is at the center each Tuesday to provide health screenings or answer health-related questions from community members.

“Being here provides us an opportunity to get to know members of the community, and for them to see ECU as a friend to the community,” Mallette said. “It’s not just an ivory tower that sits to the east and west of the center.”

Upcoming Events

  • Wednesday: “The World is Fat…”: A lecture presented by Dr. Barry Popkin, the W.R. Kenan Jr. distinguished professor of nutrition at UNC; noon-1 p.m. Nov. 28, East Carolina Heart Institute Auditorium, Room 1415.
  • Thursday-Friday: Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival featuring Thomas Sauer, piano, Ara Gregorian, violin, and Amit Peled, cello, in concert. 7 p.m. Nov. 29 and 8 p.m. Nov. 30 in A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall, ECU School of Music. Call 1-800-ECU-ARTS for tickets.
  • Thursday-Saturday: School of Art and Design Holiday Exhibition and Sale: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 29 and 30, and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 1. Art guilds will have a wide selection of unique art gifts on display including ceramics, metals, jewelry, textiles, paintings, prints, sculpture and photography.
  • Saturday: The Raleigh Ringers, internationally acclaimed handbell choir, 8 p.m. Dec. 1 in Wright Auditorium. The Greenville Choral Society will open this holiday performance. Call 1-800-ECU-ARTS for tickets.

via The Daily Reflector.


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