Stockton marks 9th annual Day of Service

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Daniel Tome, program coordinator in Stockton’s Office of Service-Learning, readies for his big event.

GALLOWAY – Richard Stockton College President Herman J. Saatkamp told about 500 students Saturday, Sept. 8 how proud he was to be the school’s president.

That they were volunteering for some 30 community service projects in the 9th annual Day of Service, was the source of his pride.

And while the president started the college’s concentrated efforts to partner with the surrounding community, they – including another Day of Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King – carry on almost on auto-drive.

“We have 28 projects,” said Daniel Tome, program coordinator in Stockton’s Office of Service-Learning, before learning that the Girl Scouts would be working at five separate stations. “Since we have a new campus in Hammonton, we are embarking on serving the community there.”

He said voter registration was an issue with 2012 being a presidential election year.

“The NAACP is doing voter registration here today,” Tome said. “NAACP students will make sure that all students are registered to vote.”

The Community Emergency Response Team was also in action.

“Our police on campus train students in first response, disaster relief and doing some organizing,” Tome said.

While talking to a reporter, Tome was told that the Girl Scouts had arrived and had about 15 boxes that needed to be brought into the Campus Center.

Barely breaking from his discussion, Tome arranged for a group from the sign-in table to carry in the Girl Scouts’ paraphernalia.

Office of Service-Learning program assistant Diana Strelczyk said that about 150 of the 500 student volunteers would be working off campus.

“Hammonton is opening Front Street Park,” Strelczyk said. “We’ll be doing some cleanup. “Next year we’re really hoping for a big 10th. This is such a great faculty, staff and students collaboration.”

One group of volunteers worked making ribbons to show support for veterans.

Coordinator of Veterans Affairs Pat Shields said there were 300-400 veteran students at Stockton – some who were serving in Afghanistan as recently as a few months ago.

“We’re helping them transition,” Shields said. “Once they’re back from overseas we set up a support system. They have special accommodations in campus housing, a veterans orientation program and a veterans support team.”

A Veteran’s Day ceremony last fall featured a flyover of F16 fighter jets from the 177th Air National Guard.

“They have a special lounge and park on campus,” Shields said. “There are many, many programs. Our veteran students coming back from service are different from students fresh out of high school. They’re serious – goal minded.”

According to Shields, veteran students are some of Stockton’s best academically with a B-plus average overall.

“The Veterans Lounge is in F Building, right across from the library,” Shields said. “At any time you might find five-10 veteran students there. It has two computers with Wi-Fi, a printer, a TV with all the channels and electronic games.”

There’s also a microwave and a bulletin board.

“They come in to socialize, and to do schoolwork,” Shields said. “For new students it’s a great way to meet the other veteran students.”

Stockton also has 50-100 active military from the 177th, McGuire and Fort Dix.

“The park continues as a student lounge open to all,” Shields said. “There are seals for the branches of the military and stones for veterans of the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars.”

Office of Service-Learning graduate assistant Emily Heerema, left, and program assistant Diana Strelczyk prepare for volunteer activities.

Herman J. Saatkamp tells students how proud he is to be president of their school.

Stockton President Herman J. Saatkamp addresses about 500 student volunteers.

Coordinator of Veterans Affairs Pat Shields welcomes volunteers to make ribbons.

Coordinator of Veterans Affairs Pat Shields at the Stockton Veterans Lounge

Veterans Park is outdoors at Stockton – a place where students meet and eat.

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