Students work to maintain community engagement in virtual space
By Stephen Wilson
Students involved with programs through Landis Center for Community Engagement did not let distance caused by COVID-19 to prevent them from maintaining their connections to local people and organizations.
Sharon Engel ’22, coordinator for the Urban Garden Initiative, couldn’t do any remote tilling, but she and the team could help purchase supplies. The farm needed seeds, which was possible from across the distance.
“I still wanted to continue this promise by figuring out a way to make this work remotely,” says Engel. “This aspect of Landis programs, to me, represents on a very small scale the redistribution of wealth to people and places who really need them.”
The farm did create a new Instagram account to help keep the crew up to date on the harvest: @easton_urban_farm.
Alison Maxwell ’22 is active with Best Buddies, a program that fosters friendships with individuals with intellectual/developmental/physical disabilities. She and the team held Zoom calls in order to stay connected across the distance.
“It was really well received, and we had a really great time catching up with everyone,” says Maxwell. “We also created a flyer with some recommendations for how people can spend their time wisely with all this extra time on their hands.”
It was stuff they would have done in person and allows them to maintain their connections.
Josselyn Alvarenga ’20 and Kim Manalang ’21 wanted to give their community partners and other members of the Lafayette community a sense of how amazing volunteering is and the joy it has brought them.
They teamed up to create a video that reflected on their programs at Firth Youth Center and the YMCA—both what they do and why they love it. Lafayette students recorded themselves, and Manalang edited the videos together.
Alvarenga wasn’t done there. She also designed some pandemic-related coloring pages for kids who were home.
“I started drawing as a stress-reliever for myself and realized I could do something more,” says Alvarenga. “It gives me a chance to share one of my hobbies. Even if I won’t be able to see the rewarding smiles on their faces, I know I am doing something that can help them realize what these kids means to us.”