Faculty and Staff Increase Volunteering Numbers in 2015


To give without expecting gain is indeed the greatest payoff of them all.

But you don’t have to tell that to the big-hearted volunteers at the University.

Each year, the University’s Office of Community Relations surveys faculty, staff, and administrators to measure volunteer engagement, from the number of hours they devoted to others to the types of causes they typically commit themselves to.

In the 2015 Community Engagement Survey, 88 percent of 116 respondents reported volunteering, up 6 percent from 2014 survey results. Some gave their time to religious organizations, school-related concerns, and children’s causes, while others dedicated themselves to health issues, sports, PTAs, and civic duties.

Their time commitments are generous, too, offering a number of volunteer hours each month to the causes they are passionate about, as well as creating opportunities for their students to help communities beyond campus.

Their commitment to community embodies the Jesuit values the University stands for, especially justice for all. Among so many, here are just four members of the University community who exemplify these values because of their true, lasting commitment to volunteer service:

Kimberly A. Pavlick, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, has created many paths for her students to become involved in the community beyond campus.

In one project, students wrote the life stories of seniors at active adult centers; in another, her newswriting students worked closely with United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

“I have been using engagement projects in my classrooms for about seven years. I find that having the students immerse themselves in their adopted city makes them better residents of Scranton,” Dr. Pavlick said.

Dr. Pavlick is also actively involved with her parish, Our Lady of the Snows in Clarks Summit. She serves as a Eucharistic Minister and heads up the instant bingo booth at church events. Dr. Pavlick said she and her husband, Ken, believe in “serving our community because that's what we are called to do.”

Marie E. Karam, Director, Language Learning Center, has brought her passion for language learning and helping others find their voice to places near and far. In local communities throughout Scranton, she has created numerous opportunities for immigrants to learn English so they can navigate their new home and combat the challenges they encounter.

Internationally, after visiting El Salvador, she committed herself to improving education there. She started a scholarship program that, with the support of University faculty and staff, has funded the education of hundreds of students from kindergarten through college.

Her journey in service to immigrants of the United States began 25 years ago when she was asked to be a Spanish translator for an emergency situation at a local hospital: A woman from Mexico was about to have her first baby.

“From the moment the father handed me that baby boy, I realized I had become an ‘adopted family member’ of the immigrant community,” Karam said. “I'm grateful that I have shared and continue to share their personal journey as their ‘maestra’ and advocate for their many struggles throughout these many years.”

Tricia O'Rourke Cummings, Center for Student Engagement, Program Coordinator: Clubs and Organizations, found her footing in Northeast Pennsylvania because of her commitment to volunteering. Fresh from Philadelphia, she first volunteered for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Twenty five years later, you can find her, her husband, and her daughters serving food to the poor at the St. Francis of Assisi Soup Kitchen in Scranton.

“I started volunteering there a couple of years ago, at first every now and then,” Cummings said.

Now and then eventually turned into Tuesday afternoons.

Among other volunteer commitments, once a month Cummings cleans her parish church, Our Lady of the Snows, and prepares and hands out meals for homeless men staying at Camp Orchard Hill in Dallas.

“We really talk about being men and women for others,” she said of the University’s Jesuit ideals. “It’s important to give back. I’ve been given so much, I want to give back.”

Dale Giuliani, Department of English and Theatre faculty, knows that the key to happiness is not just about making money or being successful. Helping others has brought untold happiness to her life.

“I grew up in the 60s. I’m one of these ancient people,” she said with a laugh, “that has it ingrained in us about giving back to others.”

She has brought joy to the hearts of local veterans at her church, Asbury United Methodist Church, where she plays piano for them at Veterans Day programs, as well as at other charity events at the church and elsewhere.

She offered a bit of advice to would-be volunteers: “Volunteering can be a lot of fun if you let people know where your talents lie.” 

Public Relations Student Correspondent Laura Bonawits '11
is a communication major from Plymouth, Pa.
Laura Bonawits
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