Connecting Hearts Through the Office of Community Engagement

In 2023, the Office of Community Engagement reported more than 115,000 hours.

Located in the Academic Center – HC 109, the Office of Community Engagement organizes regular events, workshops, and service projects that bring together students, faculty, and community members. These initiatives provide opportunities for collaboration, learning, and hands-on experience.

Erin Rederscheid, Coordinator of Community Partnerships, under the Office of Community Engagement, said, “When Sacred Heart was founded, it was a center point of the Fairfield community and as time evolved it was apparent the need that the Bridgeport community had for support.”

Students embark on immersion programs that take them to diverse communities within the United States and around the world. These programs provide a platform for students to engage in meaningful projects, fostering a deeper understanding of diverse cultures and traditions.

Annie Johnson, Director of the Office of Community Engagement said, “The work of the Office of Community Engagement is at the heart of the overall mission of the University.”

The university’s mission stands to educate the whole person and promote a sense of responsibility for the common good.

In alignment with the university’s mission, the office provides a diverse range of programs and initiatives that connect students with community service opportunities, service-learning projects, and volunteerism.

Community Connections is a pre-fall orientation program through the Office of Community Engagement, which accommodates 40 to 60 students. Over a week incoming first-year students participate in a variety of service projects at various locations across the city.

“I’ve been doing volunteer work since I was in elementary school, so when

I learned about the pre-fall program that the office runs called Community Connections, I knew it was right for me,” said sophomore Sophia Patterson.

The office coordinates transportation to volunteer sites to accommodate everyone who wants to volunteer from soup kitchens to working with children and many other diverse projects. Students have to ability to give back in any capacity.

“There’s over 450 freshmen, who have been volunteering this year,” said junior Lauren Pisano. “So just seeing everyone’s involvement and also the school showcasing the service weeks.”

Students can track and highlight their hours through GivePulse, a platform where weekly volunteer opportunities are consistently posted and tracked.

The office also recently rebranded itself to show more inclusion. The Office of Community Engagement focuses on multiple different opportunities rather than just volunteering.

“We are excited about this evolution in our identity and mission. The Office of Community Engagement embodies our commitment to fostering a sense of social responsibility and global citizenship among our students,” said Rederscheid.

Sacred Heart also offers service-learning courses, domestic and international service immersion programs, and student life service clubs. International programs include trips to Colombia, Greece, and Costa Rica. Each year applicants are accepted in September.

“The goal is to continue to put our footprint out in Sacred Heart and bring our students with us,” said Rederscheid.

Looking for more opportunities to get involved?

“Come to the office, they make it feel so welcoming, there is always someone at the front desk to greet you,” said Graduate Assistant, Tiyaira Gilchrist, for the Office of Community Engagement.

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