By Jill Borowski
This fall, LIU Post instituted an innovative program called the First Year Service Experience, which was open to all incoming freshmen. The program, run by the Office of Campus Life, offers students an opportunity to better themselves and their time at LIU Post, mainly through meeting other students, getting involved on campus, and kick starting their college careers.
Students volunteered for the program, and were tasked to become more involved with school activities. Samantha Gottlieb, Assistant Director of Campus Life and Michael Berthel, Director of Campus Life, were the administrators behind this program and led the First Year Experience.
The First Year Experience was not a required part of the transition into Post, and was completely voluntary and only open to students graduating with the class of 2018. Students were encouraged to sign up both during the summer and during orientation. 22 freshmen participated in the First Year Service Experience. The program was new to LIU Post this year, yielding a small turnout for student volunteers.
The program lasted two days, from Sept. 1 to Sept. 2. On day one, the participants were able to get to know each other better in a community setting. That night, the students had a program barbeque and an ice cream social. All of the commuter students stayed overnight in the dorms to build a stronger relationship between the residents and the commuters.
Day two consisted of a hands-on-service project at multiple locations in New York City. Students were put into groups and serviced the poor, hungry, and homeless at different locations throughout four of the five city boroughs.
Christopher Scally, a junior Information Technology major, wished he would have known about the experience: “Although I am a junior, I wish I had the chance to do this First Year Experience as a freshman when starting here at LIU Post. It seems like a fun way to help out and get to know more people both on and off campus.”
The service portion of the First Year Service Experience was organized through the Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP). The participants visited four different sites and did different service work at each of these sites. One of the groups went to Jan Hus Presbyterian Church on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and organized a clothing donation, and helped to distribute food to a food pantry.
Another group of students gardened and cared for the grounds at the McKinley Children’s Garden in Queens. A third group went to Trinity Lutheran, where they cooked and serviced a soup kitchen and handed out food to the hungry. The last group of participants went to Masbia, a restaurant-style soup kitchen in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where students prepared and served dinner to people later that night.
“We anticipate the volunteer number only getting larger as we continue to run the program year after year,” said Berthel. There were also six upperclassmen students that helped guide the new students through the program and to the various sites around the city. These upperclassmen volunteered to help out with the program, and provide assistance to the younger lowerclassmen.
“We received a lot of positive feedback and cannot wait to do similar programs throughout the year,” Berthel added. Berthel stated that the program was an oveall success, despite the small number of students who participated, and that it achieved its goal of uniting students together, both commuters and non-commuters, for a good cause.