Newman University is unique in many ways — the Traditions and Transitions (T & T) class is something that helps Newman stand out from the rest of the pack. This class is a required course for all incoming freshman and is taken during the first semester on campus.
One of the many functions of the T & T classes is to introduce students to a spirit of giving and community service. This means each class must decide on a community service project they can do together.
Associate Professor of Business Law & Finance Joe McElroy has been part of the T & T program since he came to Newman in 2001. He said his class has done a great variety of projects, but for about five years now, helping one particular organization has become a tradition in itself.
McElroy said, “I had a student in one of my T & T sections who had a connection with Youthville. So I contacted them and we have been volunteering there since.”
Youthville is a program at EmberHope, and McElroy’s class has been in charge of various tasks through the years. “We’ve crushed boxes, put together toiletry bags, prepared school bags, and even sorted birthday presents that come in through the program,” said McElroy.
He added, “This year, we were working again back in the supply room. They just needed help cleaning it up and organizing it. Things like blankets and pillows and sheets, that had come in, in various numbers.”
McElroy said the organizers at EmberHope are always excited to have the students on site to do the different jobs. “I mean, you bring 15 people for a little more than two hours of work, and you get a lot done.” He added that the students' work means more than 30 hours of work are taken off the plate of the organization’s employees.
EmberHope Development Coordinator Radeana Wilson and her husband were on site as well. They were there to lend support and a helping hand to the students who came to volunteer.
McElroy explains to his students every year how valuable their time and service is to the organization, but he said he doesn’t have to talk long. He said, “I tell them that service isn’t always glamorous or visible. Sometimes it’s backdoor, and you just have to delight in the enjoyment of helping when and where you can.”
That’s not hard with the students, according to him. “I always get a positive response when I ask the students about the experience. They really seem to enjoy it.”