The Office of Civic Engagement takes pride in its large, framed photos of students that cover the walls in McDonough 204.
Those who work there look at these as the tangible memories of service trips to Nicaragua, beautification projects in Marietta, and inches of hair sacrificed for donation.
But now, the Office of Civic Engagement has a new wall ornament to boast about: the Ohio Campus Compact’s Civically Engaged Campus of Distinction Award.
At the annual Ohio Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA Impact Report presentation, Marietta’s two AmeriCorps VISTAs Amanda Dever, Civic Engagement Coordinator, and Meg McCrone, Nonprofit Capacity Building Coordinator, presented their accomplishments toward creating sustainable initiatives over the last year.
At the event’s conclusion, two representatives from Ohio Campus Compact announced that Marietta College would be the first ever recipient of the Civically Engaged Campus of Distinction Award due to, in a large part, the work of these two individuals.
“We were all really surprised, and it really means a lot, just knowing that this work has been building recently,” Dever says. “It’s meaningful, especially coming from Ohio Campus Compact, the nonprofit that has supported my position.”
Ohio Campus Compact has been active on the campus of Marietta College since the 2007 arrival of Renee Steffen, the first AmeriCorps VISTA to be deployed here. The organization aims to empower campuses throughout the state by providing grants and other resources necessary to engage in effective community service and service learning.
Just five years later, Marietta College and its Office of Civic Engagement have made strides unheard of on any other campus. This award denotes the “exemplary commitment to campus-community civic engagement and positive social change” the College has made since its initial partnership with Ohio Campus Compact.
“We were so honored to receive recognition for the progress the College has made in supporting civic engagement. Ohio Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA program has been a huge supporter of civic engagement at Marietta College. Without them we would not have been able to achieve the sustainable initiatives that we have today,” says Arielle Jennings, Director of Civic Engagement.
These initiatives include partnerships with students, faculty, administration, staff, and community organizations to promote social justice issues, spark positive change, ensure students’ continued civic involvement, and improve the local nonprofit community. From participation in Make A Difference Day to grassroots programs like Hunger and Homelessness week to well-attended Nonprofit Capacity Building Conferences, the work of the Office of Civic Engagement is in impressive in both outreach and impact.
“People in the community have told me that in the last 10 years they’ve seen a change in how Marietta College has been involved with it, which speaks profoundly about where our office is headed,” McCrone says. “This recognition from Ohio Campus Compact represents a lot of hard work, but also the commitment of the College to invest in the community.”
For Dever and McCrone, this award holds even deeper significance, as this was the last year at Marietta College for the two women. They feel confident their successors, however, will continue this work and propel the initiatives further. More so, they are leaving with the honor of having both of their AmeriCorps VISTA positions institutionalized because of their outstanding dedication to civic engagement. Both became emotional when reflecting on their time here and the influential work they’ve done.
“It’s nice to know that I’m leaving the campus at time that we’re on an upward trend with students and staff more engaged,” Dever says.
McCrone agrees: “It’s so wonderful to work with such great colleagues and students. I love that we get to talk about really important things on a daily basis. People are in our office talking about social justice issues and their passions for community service. It’s an office where students feel heard, and I get to be the conduit between students and nonprofits. I love the work that I do.”