Public Service Fellowship Instills Passion to Give Back

Public Service Fellowship Instills Passion to Give Back

by Dave Cranshaw
UNH Today

For Patricia Oprea ’16, one of the biggest takeaways from her summer participating in the UNH President’s Public Service Fellowship program was a better understanding of the New Haven community.

For the last two months she has volunteered at CitySeed, a nonprofit that runs five farmers' markets in New Haven with the goal of increasing the community's access to local, healthy food. She assisted with the management of the farmers’ markets, promoted community events, created recipes and did cooking demonstrations.

Patricia Oprea '16

“I now really feel as if New Haven is my home, not just a place where I attend school,” she said. “Through my service, I became connected to the people, and their struggles and successes are intertwined with my own."

Matt Belletete ’15 learned about the public service fellowship program earlier in his UNH career, and this summer he finally had an opportunity to be part of it. He and a classmate, Tim Muyano ’16, were the first UNH students to work with the West Haven Mayor’s Office as part of the fellowship.

One of their projects was raising money and helping to construct a playground on Sea Bluff Beach in West Haven that was dedicated earlier this summer in honor of Charlotte Bacon, a victim of the Sandy Hook school shooting. They also planned and coordinated the city’s 33rd Annual Savin Rock Festival, assisted with community outreach initiatives and worked with the city’s grant writer.

“I believe all of us as students should get involved with our communities to gain a new appreciation of where you live and the people around you,” said Belletete.

“I have gained a new confidence when it comes to leadership, and I have truly been inspired to be a leader for change,” added Muyano.

At the start of his fellowship with the Connecticut Yankee Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Stephen Shepherd ’16 (left) was charged with developing a week’s worth of STEM-based curricula that could be presented at scout day camps next summer. As he nears the end of his time with the organization, he has already developed lesson plans for six weeks. That was in addition to volunteering at day camps across the state throughout the summer.

“I had heard that this program transforms people,” said Shepherd. “I had an opportunity to collaborate with a variety of dedicated individuals, all driven by a desire to help the greater good.”

Angelique Morse ’15 spent the summer volunteering at New Reach, formerly New Haven Home Recovery, a nonprofit that assists individuals living in poverty or facing homelessness. She held focus groups to gather feedback from clients about New Reach’s initiatives, wrote weekly reports for the city of New Haven and assisted with the creation of funding contracts.

“Getting involved in the community through this program helped me to learn the needs of the community and how I can help in the future, even after this fellowship program has ended,” said Morse.

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