For the fourth consecutive year, Berea College has been selected for the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for engaging its students, faculty and staff in meaningful service that achieves measurable results in the community.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which has administered the honor roll since 2006, honored Berea College as a leader for supporting volunteer and service-learning activities and civic engagement.
“Throughout Berea's history, student learning has been focused on how best our students can serve the communities where they live and work,” said Berea College’s President Larry Shinn. “We say that, ‘Berea seeks to educate service-oriented leaders for Appalachia and beyond.’ The inclusion of Berea College on this national honor roll of service is some indication that our mission of learning, labor and service is being accomplished.”
Since 2000, the Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS) at Berea College has housed student-led community-service programs and the academic service-learning program. Berea College students serve through volunteer and service-learning opportunities that take place in the Berea/Madison County community, in the Appalachian region and at sites throughout the United States and the world. During the 2009–10 academic year, 40 percent of Berea College students participated in service or service-learning activities, contributing more than 88,000 hours of service to the community.
CELTS is home to ten student-led community service programs, a Bonner Scholars Program and the academic Service-Learning Program. All of these programs are based on a model of leadership development that provides students with opportunities for training, mentoring fellow students and managing programs themselves. The service programs include mentoring and tutoring programs, Habitat for Humanity, an environmental advocacy program, and a program that serves the Spanish-speaking community, among others. Service-learning courses are taught in more than twenty disciplines across campus. Community partners include non-profit agencies, community-based organizations, and schools.
Structured reflection in all of the service programs provides students with opportunities to understand the connections between academic course content and community issues. “Berea College has given me a lot more direction, not only in learning about the world’s problems, because that will only get you so far, but also learning solutions and the best ways to work to solve those,” said Lilly Belanger, who graduated with a degree in peace and social justice studies.
Jerry Workman, volunteer director of the Berea Community Food Bank, has seen Berea's mission to serve benefit both the community and the students. “Working with CELTS and service programs at Berea College for over twenty years has provided the Berea Community Food Bank with great resources. I have had the opportunity to observe students become aware of the community needs and develop skills to assist these needs.”