WILSON, N.C. – Wondering how Barton College students are involved in service to their community? Look no further than the Office of Volunteer Service on campus to find the answers. Victoria Gonzalez, class of 2009, is serving as coordinator of this new program at Barton, and she hit the ground running with ideas and programs this past semester.

The Office of Volunteer Service at Barton, housed in the Division of Student Affairs, is supported by the AmeriCorps*VISTA Program and the North Carolina Campus Compact Program.

“Barton College has a long and proud history of regional service through education and volunteerism,” shared George Solan, vice president for student affairs.  “In its inaugural year, the Office of Volunteer Service has complemented our mission, supporting a long and proud history of tradition and service.”

The new initiative on the Barton campus is part of a larger initiative by the North Carolina Campus Compact. N.C. Campus Compact is a coalition of 46 colleges, universities, and supporting institutions collaborating to increase campus-wide participation in community and public service. Presidents commit their institutions to join with other schools in becoming “engaged campuses” that enhance students’ sense of responsibility, citizenship, leadership and awareness of community, while reinvigorating higher education’s concern for improving the quality of life in North Carolina. N.C. Campus Compact is a member of National Campus Compact, which has nearly 1,200 presidential members, and 35 state offices.

Gonzalez, a Barton College 2009 graduate and an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer, is fulfilling her commitment to the program by serving as Barton’s Volunteer Service Coordinator this year. AmeriCorps*VISTA, a national service program in which volunteers commit a year of service to work towards creating programs that will benefit the community and can be sustained after their service is completed.

“The purpose of the AmeriCorps program on Barton’s campus is to assist campus organizations as they continue to move forward in community service by coordinating a host of volunteer opportunities,” shared Gonzalez. “It is extremely exciting to be working with Barton students, opening their eyes to new opportunities for volunteerism and motivating them to become even more involved in community service. In addition to the great opportunities I have to serve as a role model for students and to assist them in service projects throughout the year, I also have a chance to hone leadership skills that I will need as I pursue a career in higher education student development.”

This fall semester, Gonzalez assisted students in a number of volunteer and civic engagement programs, including Barton College’s September 11 Day of Remembrance that not only honored those whose lives were lost on September 11, 2001, but also honored the work of Wilson’s first responders from the local Police and Fire Departments and the Sherriff’s Office as well as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). She also worked closely with the Reverend Hollie Woodruff in the planning and coordination of the second Annual Barton College Day of Service that included over 600 student, faculty, and staff volunteering some 2,565 hours of time and energy for a variety of community projects across the Wilson community.

“Early success of this program can be attributed to our first year coordinator Victoria Gonzalez,” continued Solan.  “Victoria is a talented, creative and energetic graduate of Barton College who has put her exceptional leadership skills to work on our behalf. By providing opportunity and encouragement, Victoria creatively and effectively guides our students in their continued growth as active and engaged leaders.”

Other initiatives by Gonzalez have included helping students coordinate year-round food drives and overseeing the MLK Challenge, which is a Martin Luther King Day of Service project model that seeks to engage college students in service in a fun and meaningful way. And, other projects on the horizon for Barton students include an Alternative Spring Break that will incorporate service learning and working with Barton’s Student Government Association that takes the lead in raising money and awareness for the annual community-wide service project, Stop Hunger Now. The non-profit, international relief organization by the same name is committed to ending hunger worldwide and leads ongoing efforts to feed the hungry around the world by providing direct emergency food and other life-saving aid to crisis areas.

“Volunteering in service is about giving back to the community,” Gonzalez reiterated. “I’m so excited to have this opportunity to give back to the Barton and Wilson communities that have provided so much support for me. And, I am really pleased that we are planning programming that will be sustainable for years to come.”

For additional information about Barton’s Volunteer Service program, please contact Victoria Gonzalez at 252-399-6592 or email: bccommservice@barton.edu.

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Questions?  Please contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations, at 252-399-6529 or email: kdaughety@barton.edu