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Dr. Henry A. Zimon

message from the president

the Legacy of Service

When Justin Bodor ’02 cooks lunch at the homeless shelter on Saturday mornings, I know he is not thinking about leaving a legacy. He is just thinking about feeding people in need.

Justin, like countless other Albright students, staff, faculty and alumni who contribute thousands of volunteer hours every year, is, in fact, leaving a double legacy. He leaves an impact on those he serves, and he is also a model for others to follow his lead.

In a very real way, who I am today is the result of people like Justin. So many of the formative experiences of my youth were the work of volunteers, like Howard Wimmersberger, my scout leader for six years, and my Little League coach. Or the lasting impression on a young boy of the bravery of volunteer firefighters in my hometown of Ambridge, Pennsylvania. These folks were, in a very real way, my heroes.

As Janie and I moved 19 times over the 30 years of a military career before coming to Albright, we experienced many different types of communities. We learned that the health of a community can be gauged by its level of community service, performed by organizations from the Red Cross and Welcome Wagon to the Humane Society and the United Way. Here in Berks County, I am happy to say, service organizations abound and provide ample opportunities for contribution by Albrightians.

Service not only makes for healthier towns, it is important to the health of individuals and organizations, and is, I believe, a key part of every person’s educational experience.

Service also enhances our life together as a community. When we participate together, we share the deep satisfaction of helping others. We also get to know each other better—and have a lot of fun while we’re at it, as when Janie and I joined dozens of students, faculty, staff and alumni in a Habitat for Humanity project and wielded paintbrushes, plastering tools and hammers together.

The rationale for encouraging service by our students is very much like the argument for a liberal arts education. We want our students to be broadly educated, and service to the community broadens horizons and gives us an appreciation for the problems and concerns of those with whom we live. It exposes students to new experiences and offers new opportunities for learning about the real world.

At Albright, our student organizations have wholeheartedly taken up the mantle of service and done an outstanding job. Student organizations, as well as our Shirk Scholars, put in thousands of hours every year, from raising money for Habitat for Humanity through an annual Homeless Sleepout in a cardboard box “village,” to assisting at the Humane Society and buying playground equipment for our own Child Development Center. Jennifer Levy ’02 almost singlehandedly revitalized Albright’s recycling program, and has engaged the whole College in the cause. Last year, students led voter registration efforts on campus.

And it’s not just our students. Professor Ed Gilbert founded the Blue Spruce Foundation to give aid to college students with emergency expenses. Innumerable other staff and faculty do everything from delivering Meals on Wheels to leading an annual drive to provide Christmas gifts to children of inmates in Berks County Prison.

Dr. Michelle Daniels, vice president and dean of students, has taken the lead on service at Albright, working to find ways to expand volunteerism, including obtaining an Americorp grant to hire a much needed full-time coordinator for the Volunteer Center, which was formerly entirely student run. The five Berks County colleges and universities also support a coordinator’s position to create joint opportunities for service among the institutions.

When I came to Albright, I made a commitment to support and nurture Albright’s heritage of volunteerism, and today it is one of the main components in our new strategic plan. As we progress to approval by the Board of Trustees and then implementation of the plan, we intend to create more and better opportunities for service and to encourage all Albrightians to reach out and to share of themselves. There is much to be done and each of us has legacies to leave.

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