First-Year Profile: Students Dedicate Time to Service
For the class of 2017, service work is second nature. Out of the 543 incoming first-year students, 392 participated in service work in high school. Assisting the elderly, rebuilding homes and creating nonprofit organizations are some of the projects completed by the students.
Elizabethtown’s motto ‘Educate for Service’ is one of the reasons I was particularly drawn to the College. As a Catholic, serving my community is an important manifestation of my faith.”
Amidst a battered landscape, then nine-year-old Tiana Ferrante saw the remnants of her home and possessions strewn across her Florida neighborhood by Hurricane Charley. Nothing could’ve prepared her for this sight. “To see all of your belongings in what looked like a landfill, and unable to recognize the street I was on was disturbing,” said Ferrante. As she grew older, this vivid memory inspired her to serve others deprived of a place to call home.
Donating more than 100 hours her junior and senior year, she tutored refugees from Haiti, Cuba and Africa in the nuances of the English language as part of a Catholic Charities Refugee Youth and Family Program. “I was in a similar place as the refugees at one point in my life, and I felt this overwhelming sense of empathy and wanted to help them in some way,” she said.
In 2011, she founded Tiana’s Pianas—a mission that provides free piano lessons to refugees, in the hope to better educate and communicate with them. “Music is a universal language that allows us to learn about each other and improves learning in other school subjects,” she said.
Harnessing her love of writing and the English language, this Stamps Scholar intends to major in communications and minor in professional writing.
I’d been to other schools and sat in on other classes, but nowhere else did I meet a community of students so eager to include me into their groups, not only in class, but also socially, after such a brief introduction.”
Tyler Butkus missed his summer orientation because he was busy serving others on a one-week mission trip to Kentucky. Traveling with Big Creek Missions—a Christian ministry that connects churches and volunteer groups—he helped repair homes and worked with children in the state’s Clay and Hazard counties.
While replacing a rotting porch, Butkus played and connected with three neighbor children; others on the trip spent time with the homeowners. From these moments, he realized that the mission was not solely about building homes; it also was about creating an emotional connection. “You build a porch and that lasts for 30 or 40 years, but taking the time to sit down and talk to someone, to show that you care, is not to be underestimated,” said Butkus.
Before coming to E-town, where he plans to major in chemistry and minor in business, he is scheduled to travel to Maine with the Outward Bound Program that is funded by the Stamps Scholarship he received.
I knew that I wanted to attend a school where the students are educated as members of a more global society and where service to others is a key component of the curriculum.”
Stamps Scholar Sarah Fuller remembers her mother telling her, “The greatest gift you can give someone is your time.” She listened. While attending high school, she volunteered more than 800 hours of community service and founded Letters of Hope nonprofit organization. The idea for Letters of Hope came in 2009 when Fuller realized she wanted to impact the lives of children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by sending cards and uplifting messages.
“I wanted to provide more than a monetary donation, to do something to brighten [the children’s] spirits and let them know we are thinking of them on a deeper level,” said Fuller. She first reached out to elementary school classrooms and later expanded her efforts to include senior citizen groups, religious education classes and youth groups. In addition to sending out approximately 700 letters each year, Letters of Hope holds an annual toy drive that benefits the children of St. Jude’s.
Fuller plans to continue her passion for working with children by majoring in early childhood education and special education at Elizabethtown.