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St. Louis Community College-Meramec Named to Presidential Honor Roll For Community Service

February 19, 2009

St. Louis, MO-- The Corporation for National and Community Service honored the Meramec campus of St. Louis Community College on February 9, 2009, with a place President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service learning efforts and service to America’s communities.

Meramec President Paul Pai expressed his gratitude to the Corporation for the honor and to his campus community for their commitment to excellence: “The Meramec campus is honored to receive this recognition. Our place on this distinguished list speaks to the high caliber of our faculty who have developed exceptional service learning curriculum and to the dedication of our service learning coordinator, Donna Halsband, who has worked so hard to establish our campus as a leader in the service learning arena.”

Dr. Pai emphasized that service learning and volunteerism is a critical part of the community college student’s education. “Particularly in this time of economic downturn,” said Pai, “our students have the opportunity not only to gain an enriched learning experience but also to be of great service to community members in need. What they take away from such educational opportunities is invaluable.”

Meramec Service Learning Coordinator Donna Halsband said “it is great to work with such dedicated faculty on projects that are so important to both our students’ education and the needs of our community.” Halsband cited three of the many service learning projects on the campus that speak directly to the idea of enhanced educational experience and community outreach:

  • The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program provides free tax preparation service for approximately 2 million taxpayers annually. In the past six years, student VITA interns on the Meramec campus have prepared over 2,500 tax returns, many for senior citizens and low-income members of the community. In 2008, the prepared tax returns provided $121,371 in Earned Income Credits and $387,913 in Federal Refunds to the community. The IRS estimated that the program saved taxpayers over $300,000 in tax preparation fees.
  • The Hunger Awareness Program involves students from many disciplines and provides them with an up-close awareness of hunger in their own communities. All students involved research hunger in their classrooms in some way and then volunteer at local food pantries, work in the campus food drive and donate their time and talents in creating artwork for fundraising events. In 2008, the campus collected over 10,000 pounds of food and raised $1,500 for Operation Food Search and Circle of Concern.
  • The Webster Rock Hill Ministries Database Project gives students the real-world experience of updating a pencil-and-paper recordkeeping system to an efficient computer-based one. The Webster Rock Hill Ministries serve over 6,000 people with a variety of programs. Meramec students from Information Office Systems donated their time to design and develop a database software application that allows for the creation of forms and queries based on the Ministries’ needs. This is an on-going project, for which current student volunteers provide technical support and project revisions as necessary.

Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a college can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. Honorees for the award were chosen based on a series of selection factors including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.