By Alec Matuszak
Starting Feb. 5, Post students are being given the tools to help the community through the LIU Cares initiative.
President Kimberly Cline announced and briefly previewed the initiative in November 2015, during a lecture intended to bring the LIU community closer together.
Despite the service and volunteer work that is already happening within the LIU community, LIU Cares promises to facilitate the work. According to Dean of Students Dr. Abagail Van Vlerah, LIU Cares will help provide a more cohesive and united effort towards community service.
Upon the imminent launch of the LIU Cares website, students will have the option to either create their own community service project, or join a preexisting university effort. There is a volunteer option available for students unsure of what type of project they want to work on. This option can place students on campus or in areas in need of assistance on Long Island.
If students wanted to help underprivileged kids in city schools, this idea would have to be approved through the university first.
Students have a great amount of flexibility as far as what types of programs or community service efforts they can create. There is not a strict criteria to adhere to. There is, however, a vetting process for ideas, to ensure that the organizations are legitimate.
Jesse Agbotse, a junior health and science major, as well as a member of the Men’s Innovation Organization, looks to be a part of the LIU Cares program, and give back to the homeless by giving them gift cards. “We want to do this to not only promote our club, but also we want to go outside of the campus community to represent the school so people know who this club is, and what school we’re from,” Agbotse said. “[LIU Cares] is not intended to burden anyone,” Van Vlerah said.
“It’s not intended to be another step. It’s intended to just be a great way for us all to come together and show what we’re doing. We want to make it as seamless and easy as possible.”
One of the goals of the LIU Cares program is to establish a bigger community presence on Long Island, and show the generosity and philanthropic efforts of students. More specifically, the university hopes to be awarded with the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, Van Vlerah said. The university was awarded this honor in 2015.
Once the website is launched, it will feature a Relay for Life countdown, and a history of how much was earned. The website will also feature details of the various university philanthropy efforts, and how to get involved. Currently the website says LIUCares.org is “coming soon.” Students are encouraged to submit ideas through the LIU Cares website.
There is currently no way for students to individually check their community service hours, through an LIU login page or something similar to that. However, this is being considered for the future of the LIU Cares program. Technical issues notwithstanding, Van Vlerah believes that the ultimate goal is to “show that we have this collective power [and spirit] of community engagement, volunteerism and philanthropy.”