The Office of Academic Affairs and the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) at Saint Francis University has announced the winners of the third annual “Become that Someone” Community Engagement Awards. The awards celebrate and recognize the University’s distinguished community partners, faculty, staff and students who have gone the extra length to be engaged with the community.
2020 “Become that Someone” Community Engagement Award Winners
- Engaged Community Partner: The Healing Patch Children’s Grief Program
- Engaged Faculty Member: Dr. Rosemary Bertocci, Department Chair, Religious Studies
- Engaged Staff Member: Armando Balderas, Chef, Dining Services
- Engaged Students: Angela Bartkovich, Olivia Folmer, Gabriel Graham, Laura Halligan and Jennifer Schmith
- Engaged Project: Shields School of Business Enactus UWork
- Student Award for International Service: Landon Reed
“Our students, faculty and staff truly have a heart for service,” said the Very Rev. Father Malachi Van Tassell, TOR and President of the University. “We are grateful for our community partners and the collaboration that is fostered for the common good.”
"The mutually beneficial relationships that we have fostered with our community partners are a great blessing," said Dr. Karan Powell, Vice President for Academic Affairs. "Our students and faculty are learning from their community engagement experiences, and these collaborative experiences help us all grow in heart, mind and spirit."
Engaged Community Partner
The Healing Patch Children’s Grieving Program was recognized as exceptional Engaged Community Partner. Saint Francis University and the Healing Patch have a long-standing, mutually beneficial relationship. Members of the University community has been instrumental in the success of the annual Patched Together event, helping to raise $13,000 in 2019 to support the Healing Patch’s grief work with children. The SFU Blanketeer group has also distributed handmade blankets and quilts through the Healing Patch, comforting more than 1,000 children in Blair and Cambria counties since 2006.
“The Healing Patch is greatly honored to be chosen for this award”, said Ms. Melody Ray, Healing Patch Coordinator. “We are proud to have ongoing collaborations with the University that help to meet our mission which is to provide free supportive services to local grieving families, as well as raising awareness of grief needs.
Engaged Faculty Member Award
Dr. Rosemary Bertocci received the Engaged Faculty Member Award for her commitment to community-engaged pedagogy. Several of Dr. Bertocci’s courses have been CE designated. She is also a founding member of the University’s Faculty Advisory Committee on Community Engagement. Dr. Bertocci was instrumental in developing a mutually beneficial partnership with the Cambria Care Center where more than 125 student volunteers last academic school year. She also oversees the Franciscan Goals for Today course which requires 10 hours of community service.
“I have been incredibly privileged to be part of an attentive, intelligent, reasonable, responsible, loving Franciscan community,” Bertocci said on receiving the Award. “Our world is so suffused with the beauty and goodness of God, how could one not want to join in the fun?”
Engaged Staff Member Award
Chef Armando Balderas received the Engaged Staff Member Award for his commitment to the Saint Francis University community. Chef Armando is a staple at Torvian Dining Hall where he cooks a variety of creations behind the “Bravisimo” station, and always displays a welcoming smile to students. Chef Armando often receives requests from students asking him to recreate their favorite home-cooked meals, and he is happy to do so.
“I love to take care of our students,” Chef Armando said. “It’s my pleasure to cook for them. It’s just a joy to be with the students.”
Engaged Student Award
The Engaged Student Award recognized five students for their commitment to community service. They include:
Angela Bartkovich, ’20, a double major in aquarium and zoo and psychology from Windber, Pa., was recognized for her service with numerous local animal shelters. She volunteered dozens of hours, caring for animals at the Cambria County Humane Society. As a student in the Canine Learning & Behavior CE designated psychology course, Ms. Bartkovich fostered dogs from the Central Pennsylvania and the Huntingdon County Humane societies. “Service is important to me because I like giving back to my community and working with shelter animals.”
Olivia Folmer, ’20, an OT major from Gibsonia, Pa., was recognized for her service in Campus Ministry and in the OT Department’s Toy Lending Library. She created a program, “Students Celebrating Seniors” where retired members of the Franciscan T.O.R. community in Loretto could interact with students through games, parties and other events. Ms. Folmer also participated in a Fall Break Mission trip to “A Simple House Ministries” in Washington, D.C., as well as the HUGS’20 Alternative Spring Break trip to the Bahamas.
Ms. Folmer has assisted with numerous fundraising efforts, as well as trainings for the Cresson Volunteer Fire Company. As part of her OT Leadership Project, she designed a health and safety training for volunteer firefighters, and has made arrangements with the Cresson VFD to implement the program. “If the only accomplishment in my life was to bring the love and light of Christ to others through service, I'd consider it a successful life,” Ms. Folmer expressed.
Gabriel Graham, ’23, an environmental engineering major and a creative writing minor from Davidsonville, Maryland, was recognized for his service at the Dorothy Day Outreach Center in Loretto. His nominator Dr. Rosemary Bertocci wrote, “Gabriel was a student in my RLST 105 class in fall 2019. As part of the course, he was required to complete 10 hours of service. By the end of the term, he had completed 40 hours. Gabriel has a Franciscan heart for the poor and commits himself to helping others.”
When asked why service in important to him, Mr. Graham quoted Matthew 25: 31-40: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me."
Laura Halligan, ’20, an early childhood education major from Beaver Falls, Pa., was recognized for her extraordinary service with the Healing Patch Children’s Grief Program in Ebensburg. She volunteered more than 100 hours on group nights in the tween/teen room, as well as attended necessary training that required traveling from her hometown near Pittsburgh to Ebensburg over the summer.
“Laura has been a dependable and engaged volunteer,” said her nominator Melody Ray of the Healing Patch. “She has been compassionate, welcoming, and works hard to meet our goals of building connections and giving children a place to share grief. Ms. Halligan shared, “I think it is important to give back to others whenever possible. Nothing is as rewarding as knowing you've helped someone in need.”
Jennifer Schmith, ’20, a double major in occupational therapy (OT) and psychology from Gambrills, Maryland, was recognized for her role as community service chair for her sorority (2 years) and the community service chair for the National Society of Leadership and Success (2 years). She helped organize service events such as the Wish upon a Par annual golf tournament, Relay for Life, a food can drive outside of the Ebensburg Walmart, and a candy drive for the Dorothy Day Outreach Center.
The service events that Ms. Schmith has helped organize have raised more than $28,000 for charities, such as the American Cancer Society and the Make a Wish Foundation. “Service has been important to me ever since I started going on mission trips in high school,” said Ms. Schmith. “Community service ultimately helped me find my future career as an OT.
Community Engaged Project
The Shields School of Business Enactus UWork initative was named the Community Engaged Project of the year. Uwork is an acronym for “workforce development through resources and knowledge." Student leaders Morgan Flack, Alex Kiepert, Gregory Heider, Taylor Ponchione and Hunter Longenecker were advised and encouraged by Enactus co-advisors Mr. Kent Tokin and Ms. Nicole Bauman.
Student teams worked hands-on with high risk job seekers at three community partner sites: FCI Loretto, the Center for Community Action in Altoona, and the Altoona Area School District GED program. Uwork was initiated through a BNY Mellon seed grant.
Student teams visited these community outreach sites, and provided direct and practical workforce skills through interactive presentations and activities.
Education modules for the community partners included: digital and online job skills, financial literacy, non-verbal communications, resume and cover letter development and mock interviews “The students have done a masterful job in collaborating with faculty and campus departments, such as SFU Career Services, the CCE and the Center for Student Engagement,” said co-advisor Mr. Kent Tonkin. “Watching our students truly “take the wheel” on this level of community engagement is inspiring. Our students have represented Saint Francis University with humility and dedication to service, treating the less-fortunate as peers with a humble and generous attitude towards learning.”
UWork received a grant from Menasha Corporation in September 2019 to develop a mobile presence which will assist transportation-challenged job seekers to participate in online training. The project has also earned national recognition, receiving the Enactus Leadership Award for Community Engagement in May 2019.
International Service Award
Landon Reed, ’20, a biology major from Windsor, New York, received the International Service Award for his two mission trips to the Dominican Republic.
“Service is important to me because it allows me to make a difference in this world while also shining the light of Christ to the people around me,” shared Mr. Reed. “These trips were most important times to walk in my faith,” Mr. Reed shared. “My service in the DR represented the Franciscan values that I have been taught during my time at Saint Francis University. The main Franciscan value that I experienced in the Dominican Republic was service to the poor and the needy. Some children did not have access to shoes so on my second trip, I packed my carry-on bag with 20 pairs of flip flops to give to the children.”
To learn more about Community Engagement at Saint Francis University at francis.edu/cce.