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Meelia Center introduces five new sites for students looking to give back

Susan Donahue, Crier Staff

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Student initiatives, community requests, and grants have launched new partnerships and programs at The Meelia Center for Community Engagement. There are five new or returning partnerships this year with Girls at Work, Liberty House, Webster House, My Turn, and the Manchester YMCA. There have also been two new humanities courses added to Meelia Center’s Access Academy program.

Meelia Center received a new grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities which has allowed them to introduce two new courses to their after school program Access Academy. This after school program provides classes in the humanities to refugee, immigrant, and underrepresented Manchester high school students.

Most of the classes are taught by Saint Anselm college students. Sneha Hoda class of 2020, a Computer Science Major at Saint Anselm, is one of the coordinators for the Computer Literacy class. Her involvement with Access Academy began in high school when she was a student at Access Academy.

Hoda told The Crier that when she was a student “learning in a college student taught environment was very helpful because they would run the class the way they would like to be taught”. She added that now “Access Academy has given me the opportunity to give back to the community, and to be a part of something that I once benefited from”.

The new grant awarded to Access Academy will support the addition of more faculty led classes into the existing program. Twelve new courses will be added to Access Academy over the next three years, providing new opportunities for humanities faculty.

The two new courses this year are Storytelling and Public Speaking. The Storytelling class is taught by Professor New of the English Department. Dr. Green Henning of the Education Department is teaching Public Speaking in addition to training Saint Anselm students to teach their own courses.

Dr. Green Henning told The Crier that, as a veteran high school English teacher, she “jumped at the opportunity to continue working with high school students through Access and to work with SAC students in this great program”.

She lauded the program saying, it is “incredible; not only does Access serve immigrant, refugee, and underrepresented Manchester high school students, but it also gives SAC students a chance to be mentors, leaders, teachers, and agents of change.”

Meelia Center has also made and renewed partnerships within the Manchester community with have resulted in 5 new volunteer sites this year.

Three of these partnerships grew out of this year’s freshman Day of Service. During freshmen orientation students are sent to volunteer at one of 30 sites in the Manchester area. This is done not only to foster a close relationship between the freshmen, but to teach them more about Saint Anselm’s dedication to service by showing them some of the sites that are visited by students.

Three of the sites this year, Girls at Work, Liberty House, and Webster, were so happy with what these freshmen provided to their program that they asked if Meelia Center could continue to send Saint Anselm students to volunteer during the school year.

Girls at Work is a nonprofit on Elm Street which teaches girls how to build things with power tools. Their mission is to empower girls with the tools to overcome adversity and build confidence to face current and future life challenges.

Liberty House is a safe, supportive, substance-free housing community for American veterans transitioning out of homelessness. Saint Anselm students can volunteer in the food pantry and clothing program while building meaningful relationships with veterans.

Webster House is a group home for at risk adolescent boys and girls. Dan Forbes, Director of the Meelia Center, praised the new program coordinator for his new ideas about homework help, mentorship, and elaborate weekend trips for the boys and girls. Saint Anselm College students can volunteer to tutor and mentor boys and girls at Webster House.

In addition to growing existing sites, Saint Anselm has welcomed two new prtnerships with local groups. The two additional new partnerships this year for Meelia center are My Turn and the YMCA. My Turn is a program at Central High School funded by The Department of Labor.This program’s goal is to keep students in school by providing a relaxed in school environment focused on building relationships with students. Students work with volunteers to consider future plans including careers and college.

Meelia Center has also begun to work with the Manchester YMCA program for students who have been removed from school such as in the case of suspension or expulsion. Students receive help with school work, perform some volunteer service and receive access to YMCA amenities. Volunteers from Saint A’s who perform 8 hours a month receive a free pass to the YMCA.

The Dance-A-Thon fundraiser for Hurricane Harvey relief is a new student led initiative. This event will take place on Friday Nov. 3 from 8pm to 2 am.  Students will be able to participate in dance classes run by local studios to learn how to do salsa, square dancing, ball room dancing, and more.

Still in the development process, Meelia center staff is working towards partnering with local Manchester colleges to do a Manchester park cleanup this year. Manchester residents will be asked to sponsor this cleanup by donating to Hurricane Harvey relief.

Forbes points out that Manchester is home to one-third of the state’s college population. He tells The Crier, “If we could activate a portion of them we could show that Manchester’s colleges are committed to helping the community”.

Meelia still has two coordinator positions available for students with work study eligibility. Students in this position will work with Meelia to manage partnerships out in the community. Forbes encourages students who are “passionate about community” to apply.

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The student news site of Saint Anselm College
Meelia Center introduces five new sites for students looking to give back