DUBOIS – Incoming students at Penn State DuBois, the fresh faces on campus, recently took part in outreach day activities, as part of New Student Orientation. Outreach day aims to give new students a fresh perspective on community service and the connection that the campus has with the community it calls home.
Outreach day has been a long-standing tradition at Penn State DuBois, being part of New Student Orientation to immediately create the connection between students and the community. After being on hold for some time because of the pandemic, the day returned in full force for the start of the 2023 fall semester.
“We were thrilled to be able to reintroduce Outreach Day this year,” Brittany Stanton, assistant director for student engagement, said. “This event began in 2010, so this year was our tenth time offering it to new students. After a three-year hiatus, it was great to reconnect with community members, and show our students the dedication that we have to giving back to our community in their first days on campus. As a result of Outreach Day, we hope that the students come out of it with newly formed connections, knowledge about our area, and a better understanding of their impact on our community.”
New Student Orientation Welcome Days at Penn State DuBois consists of two days. The first day features students getting the opportunity to get to know each other, faculty, staff and the campus. Day two is when Outreach Day takes place.
Outreach Day began with students being set into groups to go to one of 12 locations within in the greater DuBois community. This year’s students volunteered at each of these locations:
- Bucktail Council, Boy Scouts of America
- Central Pennsylvania Community Action Inc.
- Children’s Aid Society
- DuBois Area Historical Society
- DuBois Area United Way
- DuBois Public Library
- Falls Creek Borough
- Haven House
- Paint and Play School
- Soul Platter Café
- Square One Community/House to Home
- Tri County Church
Students at each location assisted each organization in different ways depending on their needs. Ranging from helping with beautification by pulling weeds and cleaning up debris, to cleaning, dusting and disinfecting, to preparing and cooking food for upcoming meal services, students were fully involved throughout their day of volunteering.
“This event is so important for our students,” Rebecca Pennington, director of student affairs, said. “It provides a first-year common experience and studies show that these opportunities provide belonging and connections from the start, which is pertinent to a student’s success.”
Neil Hanes, executive director of the DuBois Area United Way and a Penn State DuBois graduate, sees great value in both the campus and the outreach efforts that happened on Outreach Day.
“The campus cares about the area and they want to give back, but they also want to instill pride into the new students as well,” Hanes said “I’ve been involved in the community for many years, I like to give back. The fact that Penn State DuBois is aiming to have that be part of these young adult’s lives is invaluable.”
The Soul Platter Café, a “pay what you can” establishment where individuals and families can take in the “restaurant” experience and not be turned away if they don’t have enough or even any money, had students help prepare food items for their upcoming weekend service. They also completed some cleaning and painting needs that the café had on site, as well as traveled a short distance to stock a red food box that the café keeps stocked 24 hours a day with food items for those in the community who need them.
“The relationship between Penn State DuBois and the café is great,” David Rishell, director of the Soul Platter Café, said. “We like it because it gives us a great way to help get students involved in the community. Our goal is to really open the students’ eyes into just how much there is a need for them in the community, like at our ‘pay what you can’ café.”
After returning to campus, students again connected with the fellow students in their groups to reflect on the day’s experiences and what they gained from their volunteering during Outreach Day.