RWU students make 'Community Connections' in Portsmouth

Freshmen take part in annual service day project

By Kristen Ray
Posted 8/28/18

PORTSMOUTH — To kick off the first week of their collegiate careers, incoming freshmen students at Roger Williams University took part in the 14th annual Feinstein Community Connections …

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RWU students make 'Community Connections' in Portsmouth

Freshmen take part in annual service day project

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — To kick off the first week of their collegiate careers, incoming freshmen students at Roger Williams University took part in the 14th annual Feinstein Community Connections Day on Monday, Aug. 27.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., about 1,100 students spread out across 33 different sites around Rhode Island (including two Portsmouth locations) and Massachusetts, volunteering with organizations in varying sectors.
“These students will spend the next four years learning in the classroom and using the knowledge and skills they gain there to solve the problems outside the gates of the campus,” RWU Interim President Andy Workman said. “We believe that this commitment to experiential learning provides a profoundly transformative education that is the best preparation for our students to have productive careers and meaningful lives.”

In Portsmouth, the freshmen helped clean up Island Park Beach along with the environmental group Clean Ocean Access, and also assisted with tasks at the Portsmouth Multi-Purpose Senior Center on Bristol Ferry Road.

Since the program’s development in 2005, senior center director Cynthia Koniecki has taken advantage of the hard work the incoming freshmen put in during the annual event.

“I used to have 10 volunteers, but now I ask for 25,” she said with a laugh.

This year, students split up, tackling a wide range of tasks for Ms. Koniecki and her team of staff and volunteers. 

Some helped switch out the summer apparel in the Thrift Store — one of the largest sources of funding for the center— for the fall and winter fashion collections. Others cleared out the storage room in preparation for its transformation into the new elder information specialist’s office, moving supplies up to the second floor and even organizing Ms. Koniecki’s filing cabinet.

Without an elevator or air conditioning on the entire second floor, Ms. Koniecki estimates that in just a few short hours, the students saved her from months of work. 

“I’m relieved,” she said. “There’s no way I could have done this without them.”

By the end of the year, students will have spent 75,500 hours helping people like Ms. Koniecki and countless others through the program, which is funded by Rhode Island philanthropist Alan Shawn Feinstein.

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