4/25/2014 2:20:27 AM

RA Training Emphasizes Service

Monday, September 09, 2013

By Marissa Potts '14 and Erin Faeth '15

With garden sheers in hand and a foam pad beneath their knees, the Townhouse RA staff members spruced up the St. Francis Garden on the grounds of the Mohawk & Hudson River Humane Society in Menands, N.Y. As they pulled weeds out of the soft soil and cleared the grounds of fallen debris, they watched a beautiful brown and white pit bull jog across the lawn, eagerly tugging the volunteer dog walker along with her.

Across the Hudson River, Plassmann Hall staff members formed a human chain from the road to a spot in the forest at Camp Scully, a co-ed summer camp for Capital Region children and teenagers in North Greenbush, N.Y. They cleared a section of land and forged a new trail where the camp staff plans to implement new activities for the campers, such as target practice for shooting and archery. Digging up roots, clearing out branches and separating firewood from the brush, they transformed a patch of unkempt wilderness into a suitable play area for campers.

Both service trips were eye opening and inspiring experiences.

For the second straight year, Siena’s RA Training has included these service trips. This year, the staffs visited seven different locations in the Capital Region: Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless, Ronald McDonald House, Camp Scully, Northeast Regional Food Bank, Capital City Rescue Mission, Habitat for Humanity and the Mohawk & Hudson River Humane Society.

Associate Director of Residential Life Adam Casler says that service trips were included as a part of training “to bring the mission of Residential Life, the Division of Student Affairs and Siena College into practice. [The] department felt that an emphasis on service trips would enhance RA training with a continued emphasis on our mission and would have the benefit of getting our RA staff involved in the local community.”

The service trips are an embodiment of the Siena Residential Life mission by fostering a safe and healthy community outside of Siena’s campus and by imparting the personal responsibility to help others.

“It was great to work both with and for the people at Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless,” said Julia Swick ’14, a resident assistant in New Hall. “We met such interesting people when we were there.”

Relationships that are forged as a result of service trips such as these establish a sense of mutual respect and understanding, which motivates people to serve more. Each RA left with the desire to go back and continue volunteering, which is a powerful and transmittable feeling.

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