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Moraine Valley’s Community Learning Day truly exemplifies the word “community” as an integral part of the college’s name. The day offers faculty and staff opportunities to model civic engagement and build relationships with community organizations that can lead to additional service learning opportunities for students.

“Community Learning Day allows faculty and staff to give back to the communities that support the college and the people we serve,” said Dr. Kristine Christensen, director of Faculty Development and a member of the Community Learning Day steering committee. “The day brings together our staff and the community into a day of service that enhances our understanding of one another and helps us build relationships that can help our students with either needed services or additional learning opportunities.”

Faculty and staff spent the college’s third annual Community Learning Day helping at more than a dozen locations, including the Animal Welfare League, Bridge Teen Center, Catholic Charities, Pleasure Lake, Cook County Forest Preserves, My Joyful Heart, Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, St. Coletta’s of Illinois, Sertoma Centre, Holy Family Villa, Elsie’s Food Pantry, and Greater Chicago Food Depository. Service ranged from helping with cleaning and renovation, to clearing away invasive species in woodlands, putting together hygiene and food packages, and assisting residents in creating recorded digital memory keepsakes. Some staff stayed on campus to help those whose first language is not English practice and learn English-speaking skills, create cards to send to cancer patients, teach area residents to play musical instruments, and more.

“To lend a helping hand, even if it’s just a day here or there, can make a difference in everyone’s life. It increases your awareness of the level of need that’s out there,” said Mary Beth Walsh, professor of Travel Business Management, Meeting Planning and Special Events. “I find that when I volunteer, I always get more than I give.”

Dr. Christensen said the spirit of service doesn’t stop once Community Learning Day is over.

“Many faculty and staff have started volunteering at various organizations as a result of learning more about the various volunteer opportunities,” she said.

The event is partially sponsored by the Moraine Valley Community College Foundation. “The Foundation is so proud to provide the funding for Community Learning Day,” said Kristy McGreal, the Foundation’s executive director. “It’s so empowering to be a part of a day that impacts the lives of so many.”