Vocation, Capacity, and Community

When I talk about vocation with students, I often describe it as the overlap between what you want and are equipped to do and what your communities need. After all, active citizenship, the guiding model of our office, is about prioritizing community in your values and life choices. It is through this lens of vocation that I am so excited about our funded local internships.
Through the generous support of the Parents Fund, the Office of Community Engagement (OCE) has been able to offer five internships since summer 2016 which address the capacity needs of local community organizations while providing amazing growth opportunities for the student interns. You can read about the experiences of all five interns, but here are a few highlights: Ashleigh Arrington sharpened her media skills by creating video trainings for Literacy for Life volunteers. Nick Adjami took responsibility for the Power of Produce Club at the Williamsburg Farmers Market, crafting creative ways for kids to learn about fruits and vegetables. Kassandra Smith applied her Environmental Science knowledge to develop curriculum for Waller Mill Park which educates visitors about healthy water systems.
This spring we are offering four more internships. Selected interns will serve 100 hours and receive a $1,000 grant for their work. Students must apply by January 30, 2017.
 Our spring internships are:
  • Willliamsburg Farmers Market Power of Produce Intern
  • City of Williamsburg Neighborhood Response Team Intern
  • Virginia Legacy Soccer Community Partnerships Site Intern
  • Williamsburg Faith In Action Volunteer Programming Intern
We were pleasantly overwhelmed by internship opportunities from the local community and are hopeful we can expand the program in the future. For now, students interested other community internships can email me so we can discuss the many other opportunities we weren’t able to fund this spring (like working with Heritage Humane Society, marketing projects with Literacy for Life or Family Focus, fundraising with Colonial Heritage Foundation, research with Community Housing Partners, or developing a summer meals program with Salvation Army to name a few).
Where do your talents and interests meet the needs of community?
-Elizabeth Miller, Assistant Director OCE

Nic Martinez: Passing on the spirit of service

OCE Community Profile Series
By Graham Bryant ’13 | July 30, 2013

When you think of the qualities and dedication exemplified by William & Mary’s many active citizen service-learners, the image you conjure is inevitably one of someone like Nic Martinez ’14. As president of the College’s Nu Rho chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity and one of the largest community service organizations at William & Mary, Martinez helps coordinate the efforts of around 300 service-minded students dedicated to meeting the needs of Williamsburg and beyond. When not working with APO, the government major and economics minor frequently devotes his time to OCE projects and events, passing along his passion for service learning the College’s next generation of engaged scholars. We sat down with Martinez to talk about his experiences and future plans.

Office of Community Engagement: How are you involved in community engagement at William & Mary?

Nic Martinez: Since freshman year I have been on numerous trips with Branch Out Alternative Breaks. They range from going to Nicaragua with Bridges to Community, to driving down to Newport News to work with Habitat for Humanity. This past spring I traveled to Philadelphia to assess homelessness and income inequality. I led the Housing and Healthcare 7 Generations Pre-Orientation trip to the Eastern Shore. Among other things, I have worked locally with the Habitat ReStore and Campus Kitchens. The OCE helps me always stay busy!

OCE: Tell me about your experiences as a 7G co-leader. What were your responsibilities and what trip did you work on? What did you gain from the experience?

NM: One the face of it, the trip was focused on the housing and healthcare situation of migrant workers on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. But throughout the trip, I realized the issues at hand were interchangeable with any other issue. The real learning experience was facilitating human interaction and compassion. I have been on trips in the past as a participant, but by leading a trip, I was able to pass on the spirit of direct action, service learning, and sustainable social reform. I also get to introduce incoming freshmen to the College, which is always awesome.

OCE: Can you tell me about your involvement in APO and briefly discuss what APO does in the community?

NM: This past fall I became the president of Alpha Phi Omega. One of my favorite aspects of APO is the community that we provide for people to feel more comfortable seeking out direct service. Having a network of friends that one can do service with is key to facilitating action. I remember being a freshman and I had no idea where to go to do community service. APO guides members to the OCE and creates the social pathway to find new resources and opportunities.

OCE: How have these roles contributed to community needs?

NM: The OCE and APO alike both have short term goals: helping those in need with direct action. For example, bringing pre-made meals to low-income community members is a short-term solution. Then there is a middle term goal of learning about the problem at hand and really understanding it. It’s important to realize why the problems exist in the first place, while factoring in many different variables. In the long-run, I hope that students will go on to post-graduate work with these problems and goals in mind, thereby raising their social issue awareness.

OCE: What does active citizenship mean for you?

NM: It involves learning about the process of social change. Helping feed others or picking up trash in a campus clean-up project is important. This is the dirty work to social change. It is also very important to know the reasons for excessive littering on campus and how we can alleviate it. Finally, active political and social participation in the future is needed so that we can shape our community and policy in a way that fixes the issues.

OCE: How has your experience working in the community affected your educational career at William & Mary?

NM: I’m government major with a minor in economics. I enjoy pondering the issues that affect our society and the political discourse that goes along with these issues. Understanding the economics behind social issues is also very important to me.

OCE: How do you plan to use what you’ve learned as an engaged citizen beyond William & Mary?

NM: I plan on studying further in public administration or public policy. I will always stay politically active and hope to shape the policy in my community.

OCE: What is the most memorable or striking moment you experienced during your engagement work?

NM: I helped people without permanent housing sell a street newspaper in Philadelphia. For the first time in my life I felt invisible and worthless because people walking by on the streets thought I was homeless too and ignored me. It really helped me see things in a new perspective and change my views about the socioeconomic conditions in urban areas.

Graham Bryant