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ORANGE : Chapman to Start Student Service Plan

In an attempt to solidify Chapman University’s presence in the city, students will be placed next year in city departments and agencies to perform volunteer service.

The plan, called the Community Service Volunteer Program, is expected to provide students with real-world experience while giving the community a helping hand.

School and city officials also hope the program might smooth some neighborhood feathers ruffled by Chapman’s growth in Orange.

Chapman Provost Harry Hamilton originated the program after realizing that “Chapman was isolated from the community.”

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“There wasn’t a lot of interaction,” he said, “and I found this a great loss.”

Neighbors have battled with Chapman officials on issues ranging from campus building designs to overflow parking.

Carole Walters, a resident who often meets with Chapman representatives about neighborhood concerns, was pleased to hear about the program.

“I think it’s nice that the college students will be coming out to the community because it’s needed and it will help the school and us get together,” Walters said.

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“I see some really good things that need to be done and through them the school will become part of the community,” said Councilman Fred L. Barrera, who promoted the project at City Hall.

Students may work in areas that reflect personal interests or courses of study. Their duties will include work as tutors, literacy instructors, senior citizen visitors and environmental or youth program aides.

As planned, students would work strictly on a volunteer basis, although there is some discussion about making community service a requirement for graduation or providing academic credit for volunteer work.

Hamilton’s idea for the volunteer partnership began with a more narrow focus: to provide Chapman’s immediate neighborhood with crossing guards, tutors, senior helpers and other services. In discussions with the city and a university task force, the program became more formal. Now, services will be filtered through city agencies, and eventually Chapman students may provide help citywide, Hamilton said.

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“My personal goal is to have 100% of the students involved,” Hamilton said. “It will be excellent for our students to get involved in service and learn how to get beyond self and do things for others.”

The project won’t begin until next term, but a holiday venture called “Operation Decoration” is already in the works. Students have registered to help senior citizens dress their Christmas trees, hang holiday lights and help with other seasonal decorating.

“It’s about time we had something like this,” said Sandi Hart, the program’s student coordinator.


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