Richard Stockton College in Galloway Township is offerings its students to help area nonprofit groups rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.
Daniel Tome, coordinator of service-learning at Stockton, said at a workshop Wednesday at Stockton’s Manahawkin site that they have already formed a few successful partnerships and want to do more.
“We are looking for long-term relationships,” he told about 30 representatives of area nonprofit organizations at the event sponsored by the Southern Ocean County Chamber.
He said his department serves as a sort of matchmaking service linking students with specific skills to the needs of the groups. Students can do routine work, but could also build or update websites, help with budgeting, do surveys, organize programs or collect data.
The college currently has two courses focused on service learning, taught by Joseph Rubenstein, that are specifically targeting Sandy relief. Other professors also require a course-related service project, Tome said. He said Stockton considers service to be part of its mission, and several hundred students participated in the annual Day of Service in January.
A group of about 25 students went to Tuckerton Seaport to help clean up exhibits and and set up the miniature golf course toppled in the storm. Executive Director Paul Hart was impressed with their work and their attitude.
“There really is a magic about them,” he said. “They didn’t just work. They thought about what we were doing and had ideas. It’s one of the most positive experiences I’ve had.”
He said some were members of a college fraternity who plan to come back in October to run the Seaport’s Halloween event to raise money for charity. A few said they would be back to volunteer in the summer.
Tome said students have also done work at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission and St. Francis Center on Long Beach Island.
Christy Cunningham, associate director of Stockton’s Career Center, said she can provide students for more formalized internships, including short-term paid positions.
Lori Pepenella Destination Marketing Director for the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, said the nonprofit groups also must work together to spread the message that they are open and operating.
Becky Hedden, of Manahawkin, president of the Atlantic Audubon Society, said they are trying to raise awareness of their group and recruiting college students could help spread the word about the society to a younger generation. She said the society originated in the 1970s as the Stockton Bird Club.
“We have a website, a newsletter and Twitter and college students are so skilled in social media,” she said. The society also awards scholarships, so a student volunteer could be rewarded for their efforts.
Tome said a community-service project could lead to a lifetime of support for the nonprofits.
“We want to make the point to students that part of the reason they are going to college is to become active citizens in their communities,” Tome said.
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