Cheyenne Robinson of Roque Bluffs was a student at the University of Maine at Machias when she began her internship at The Next Step, a domestic violence agency. Robinson then was hired on a part-time basis while a senior at UMM and is now a full-time employee, working with domestic violence survivors, along with updating and maintaining The Next Step’s social media accounts. “Every day I’m inspired by the people who use our services, because of the bravery and strength it takes to leave an abusive partner,” Robinson said.
Her success in turning a volunteer opportunity into full-time employment is an example of the power of community service on the University of Maine at Machias campus. At UMM, there are numerous opportunities to get involved with the community. Robinson, like many other UMM students, began working as a volunteer in the community to provide service. For some students, these service projects can have lifelong impacts.
UMM students have made improvements on local hiking trails. They have helped businesses move their offices. They have stacked wood for seniors, volunteered as workers for various community events and participated in clean up days around town.
Jo-Ellen Scribner, Director of Student Career Services, said community service is vital to an overall college experience and can lead to career success.“I believe that anytime someone has experience doing community service or volunteering on their resume, it indicates a positive professional quality of dedication and commitment, as well as the development of additional job skills,” Scribner said. “A resume that has those experiences will impress the potential employer. I know it does me.” As director of SCS, Scribner helps students to find job listings, improve resumes and holds mock interviews to prepare students for the business world.
Dorsey Hill, a junior majoring in Marine Biology, said she participated in service work because “it is so rewarding to be able to help communities. It’s truly gratifying to know that you’re making a positive change in the world.”
There are three aspects of community service: the service aspect, which is the literal part, the raking leaves or helping a local animal shelter or writing letters to soldiers. There is also the learning aspect, where a new skill or information about the community is learned. Finally, there is reflection, a time to realize what has been accomplished and how it has benefited others.
“It’s good to note the difference in community service and service learning,” said Jacob Hanley, UMM’s Assistant Director of Student Services. He said service learning “helps teach compassion and understanding, with a goal to help groups or people better their program in some way while learning life skills and processed along the way.”
“The particular value of community service in a campus setting is that it helps students learn the value and reward of service, both within the campus community and in the wider community,” UMM’s President Sue Huseman said. “This service not only enhances campus and community life, it serves as an introduction to service and to the communities being served as well as preparation for engagement and service in the future communities in which students will live, work and learn.”
Huseman said, “Community service provides an opportunity for students to contribute to their communities while learning valuable skills, forming meaningful relationships with others who may initially seem very different from themselves, and developing qualities like altruism, compassion, empathy, and caring as well as an ethic of service.”
UMM student Maggie Aubin advised “Get out there. Find those opportunities, or simply do a good deed. Start small and work your way up. There are plenty of community service projects here on the campus. You just have to walk outside and lend a helping hand.”