Public Engagement: Haverford House
Haverford House is a program organized by faculty, staff, students and alumni involved in the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship to strengthen connections between the College and the Greater Philadelphia region.
Each year, six recent graduates are selected for their dedication to social justice and community service for a one year fellowship. Fellows work four days per week with a non-profit host agency and dedicate one day per week to additional projects which connect the campus community with Philadelphians working to create a more healthy, just and vibrant region. In 2009, Fellows implemented co-curricular projects which engaged 22 undergraduates in more than 470 hours of service. Exemplary among them was a "Food Politics Group," which involved 12 students making a semester-long commitment to food stamp screening and enrollment program organized by the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. Students examined and discussed the structural causes of poverty, complementing their direct service work with a deeper understanding. The students volunteered at health centers in Philadelphia, screening and helping eligible people apply for the program. Students gained as much from the experience as the people who received assistance and information about important benefits; students sharpened their communication skills (in English and Spanish), heard stories that humanized the impact of poverty and gained knowledge about programs meant to alleviate it. A similar project, on a smaller scale, involved students conducting health screening in Camden, New Jersey. As a result, 24 people received health information, two were made aware of a probable diabetes diagnosis, and several were given referrals to access primary care. The fellows also organized "Alternative Break" projects, which engaged eight undergraduate students as well as fellows, faculty and staff members. During Spring Break, students spent four days gardening and learning about the social change projects of the Norris Square Neighborhood Project in North Philadelphia.