By Mary Kaczmarski
Sacred Heart professor Jane Paley and her students in the School of Communication, Media and the Arts are currently working with the McGivney Community Center, a non-profit organization in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to help rebrand them and improve their public relations.
Through Sacred Heart University’s Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning, Paley is giving her students experience that will benefit them before they enter their future careers but also showing them why it is important to help others.
The McGivney Community Center was founded 27 years ago to give children a safe space to go where they could have fun and get support when they need it. Today, the center helps more than 400 children on a regular basis.
The Center offers after-school programs including homework assistance, cooking and recreation. They also host summer camp programs where children do arts and crafts, performing arts and gym activities, among many others.
According to the McGivney Center’s website, “McGivney’s goal is to nurture youth’s intellectual, creative and physical growth in order to promote success and expand their feelings of confidence, integrity and character,”
The Sacred Heart students will be helping them achieve those goals and spread information and awareness about the center to the community.
“The students created a full-service, professional Public Relations and advertising campaign and ongoing communication strategies and techniques for the center,” said Paley.
According to the Sacred Heart University web page, Students don’t just volunteer once; they must participate in work that entails research, writing of press releases or ad copy, photography, design, podcasts, and social media.”
Sacred Heart University senior Caroline Bollentino, a student in Professor Paley’s class, said, “This experience is truly preparing me for the real world, it is a class that not only teaches you what to do in the real world, but also gives you a hands on experience.”
While the main goal of this project is to benefit the McGivney Center, it is also benefiting the students involved and giving them real life work experience and insight to what their futures may look like.
“The students now have a professional portfolio which will help them when they begin their careers,” said Paley.
This experience gives students a glimpse into what their lives may look like in a few years and can serve as a guide for them to what specific job they want to do within their major based on the work they are doing now.
“I have learned a lot about how to plan an event, what goes into planning, how to reach out to people, and some of the ways to market a business,” said Bollentino.
“The service-learning aspect is key. Their work touches lives in a tangible way,” said Paley.
The students are helping to ensure that the McGivney Center can give these children and families the help and resources that they need and deserve that they may not be able to get from anywhere else.