Hardin-Simmons University Nationally Recognized for Community Service
By Janlyn Thaxton
Hardin-Simmons University has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Launched in 2006, the national program annually recognizes institutions of higher education for their commitment to community service.Since the start of the 2009 fall semester, HSU students have logged more than 7,400 hours of community service with more than 600 students participating. The three projects considered for the President’s Community Service Honor Roll include a neighborhood renewal day by incoming freshman, students in the Department of Physical Therapy who have a long list of projects focused on the community surrounding the campus, and the students who participate with the ongoing projects by the Baptist Student Ministries. The President’s Honor Roll is meant to increase the public’s awareness of the contributions that colleges and their students make to local communities and the nation as a whole. Dr. Michael Whitehorn, vice president for student development says, “When Dr. Hall and members of the Administrative Council saw the criteria for this award, we realized the criteria described community service activities that we’ve done and considered part of our mission for many years.” Those projects include:• A community service day during New Student Orientation at HSU. Students participate annually on this Saturday set aside for community renewal. Students can be found throughout the neighborhoods around the campus painting houses, removing old appliances and furniture, and cleaning trash from alleyways and vacant lots.It takes about three months to carefully plan and implement the many projects organized in which the students take part. HSU also partners with the Neighborhood Enhancement Center and the City of Abilene by removing tons of trash, mowing miles of lawns, and building neighborhood connections and relationships. Students and neighbors top off the day with a party to celebrate the hard work and what it accomplished.• Students with the Baptist Student Ministries program put in over 2,000 service hours with Habitat for Humanity, Love and Care Ministries, Connecting Caring Communities, and local churches. The BSM takes part in the Halloween Festival in support of the Abilene State School, hosts senior citizens from the area for Adopt-a-Grandparent, and collects toys each December for the House that Kerry Built.• HSU’s physical therapy students participate in the Special Olympics: Bocce Tournament and Fitness Screenings for the participants. PT students also conduct blood pressure and grip strength assessments for the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk. They do blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration assessments for the campus community and the surrounding neighborhood. Students also conduct fall risk assessments and balance screenings for the community, do therapeutic intervention during mission trips to Mexico and Nigeria, gather gifts and food at Christmas for families, and help with the wish lists for boys who live at the Ben Richey Boys Ranch. The Corporation for National and Community Service announced the annual Honor Roll award recipients today, recognizing more than 700 colleges and universities for exemplary, innovative, and effective community service programs. The corporation oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.HSU President Dr. Lanny Hall says, “It is very affirming to know that HSU has been recognized in this significant way.” Hall points to the HSU statement of purpose which encourages individuals to lead lives of service through active involvement in intellectual, cultural and religious life, both on campus and in the larger communities of Abilene and the world. “That this prestigious national organization affirmed the service component of our mission is especially gratifying,” says Hall.
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