Servicing Our Volunteers

Kean's Center for Leadership and Service holds a brunch to celebrate students with astounding community service hours

Campus News > Servicing Our Volunteers
Servicing Our Volunteers

Students who had received varying awards at the community service brunch.

Abigail Anne Rafael, Senior Editor

On Tuesday, April 17, 57 student volunteers were recognized for their commitment to servicing the community with an award ceremony and brunch. 

The event was hosted by Kean University's Center for Leadership and Service (CLS) at the Dave Gibbons Conference Center in Kean Hall, Room 127. 

The program began with an opening by Susan Figueroa, the managing assistant director for Community Service and Civic Engagement from the CLS, who recognized various representatives from Kean University who help make community service for Kean students possible. She also thanked outside community partners who open their projects to Kean University students such as Habitat for Humanity, Raphael's Life house, Bernice's Place and New Jersey Blood Services.

Kristin Failla, Kean University's student trustee and a service specialist for the CLS, then introduced the Assistant Vice President of Residential Student Services Maxima Rivera, who gave the welcome message to the award recipients. In her welcome message, Rivera commented how thankful and proud she was of all the students for their help and engagement within the community who work on the behalf of Kean. Rivera then opened up the brunch buffet to all the guests. 

As everyone settled down and finished their meal, Gabrielle Lapointe, a senior service specialist for the CLS,  introduced a past community service project called Alternative Spring Break with Habitat for Humanity. Alternative Spring Break was a four-day service trip for students who wished to volunteer their free time during spring break to helping with a Habitat for Humanity project.  

The following students were recognized for their participation in Alternative Spring Break:

  • Na'jee Jones
  • Victor Benlice
  • Marius Price
  • Christ White
  • Breanna Hernandez
  • Tiffany Anele
  • Ainsley Stephens
  • Shannan McCarthy
  • Melissa Rojas
  • Alysia Nunez
  • Jonathan Ibarra
  • Lucas Lopez
  • Jeremy Gusset
  • Dawn DeMarco
  • Catarina Cordeiro

Figueroa then came back up to explain the difficulties that the CLS had to overcome at times in order to make certain volunteer programs possible. Some problems included weather related concerns and cancelled projects. A lot of the obstacles the CLS faced were managed with help from Meagan O'Bisto, a volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity North Ocean. Figueroa gave a recognition award to her for helping Alternative Spring Break come to fruition. 

O'Bisto then went on to make a speech about the impact that Kean University volunteers had made to the community. She explained that the work students had done in a mobile home community have resulted in that community reaching out to Habitat for Humanity for more help. O'Bisto explained that the amount of outreach from that community was amazing considering they had never been able to help them previously. With students' help, Habitat for Humanity has expanded further into that and other mobile home communities. 

Next, Natalie Siedhof, coordinator for Community Engagement recognized especially dedicated volunteers for the Raphael's Life House. The Raphael's Life House is a transitional home for women who are pregnant and homeless. The home works to help the women and their young children learn skills to prepare them to reenter the world. 

The following women were recognized in regard to their commitment to Raphael's Life House:

  • Maya Hill
  • Janerita Nwako
  • Sara Ridgway
  • Tibian Hassan

Afterwards, Service Specialist Rachel Domke introduced Account Manager for New Jersey Blood Services, Genevieve Toscano. In her speech, Toscano gave thanks on behalf of all the people who have benefited from the blood donations of Kean University students. She then presented the Blood Donor of the Year award to Marcus Blanc.

Next, Service Specialist Roberto Adams presented an award to the outstanding volunteers who had accumulated more than 50 hours which includes:

  • Allyson Mazzarella
  • Alysia Nunez
  • Anna Francisco
  • Ashanti Lyking
  • Brandon Goodwin
  • Breanna Hernandez
  • Catarina Cordeiro
  • Christina Truncale
  • Elizabeth Petitdemange
  • Joanna Pepino
  • Keani Esparra
  • Kelly Padilla
  • Leanne Manna
  • Maria Aponte
  • Melissa Antonio
  • Shannan McCarthy
  • Tiffany Anele
  • Valeria Crus
  • Victoria Kimberlin
  • Emely Hernandez
  • Marius Price

Following these recipients was speaker S. Gwendolyn Beloti, a Transition to Kean program coordinator. Beloti presented an award to  Beyanka Wheatley, Ashley O'Toole and Genesis Algaba who are the General Education Mentors (GEMs) with the most service hours. Beloti then presented awards to the first year students with the most significant number of service hours who were Breanna Hernandez, Tiffany Anele and Tayonna Lee.

Service Specialist Sara Ridgway then followed with awards for outstanding volunteers with more than 75 hours which included:

  • Ainsley Stephens
  • Ayanna Gordon
  • Christie Shaw
  • Daria Vandergoot
  • Megan Campesi
  • Petruce Jean-Charles
  • Gabriella Lapointe

Next, Lapointe presented awards to outstanding volunteers with more than 100 hours who were Kiara Ramierez and Dawn DeMarco. Following Lapointe was Figueroa again who presented the volunteer of the year award and a $1000 scholarship to Jonathan Ibarra.

In his closing remarks, the CLS Director Scott Snowden, addressed the importance of these such students to the Kean community and abroad. Although the students at the brunch are only a select few whose efforts were officially recorded, Kean students are likely always serving the community without a desire for any awards or recognition. It is this genuine dedication of Kean students to community service that make the world a better place.

about the author

Abigail Anne Rafael, Senior Editor

Abigail Anne Rafael is the Senior Editor for The Cougar’s Byte and first joined staff in January 2018. She is a communication major with a concentration in public relations. Abigail aims to inspire and motivate readers with her writing. After graduating from Kean, she hopes to work for a Catholic company to dispel mistruths about the Church.