Since the beginning of last summer, SSU senior Dot Flanagan of Portsmouth has donated more than 450 community service hours to a number of projects and agencies. Because of such dedication Flanagan is a 2011-2012 Charles J. Ping award recipient.
“I was a bit surprised to find out and rather excited at the same time,” Flanagan said. “Of course I had to call my family and tell them. They were just as excited as I was and especially proud since I have been rather involved in the community this past year.”
The Charles J. Ping award was designed to recognize and honor undergraduate students’ outstanding leadership and contributions to community service on their campus and within their community.
This award is granted annually to undergraduates from Ohio Campus Compact member institutions that exhibit outstanding leadership in their community service endeavors both on their campus and within their community.
Flanagan has been an active volunteer both on and off campus. Last summer she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate member and worked in the Portsmouth Pantry Garden. The garden yielded more than 2,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables that were donated to local food pantries.
As another aspect of the project, Flanagan helped conduct two community education programs to teach residents and children how to garden, cook and preserve the garden vegetables. While most college students spend their fall and spring breaks relaxing, Flanagan has chosen to help others. She has participated in five alternative break trips where she has helped build homes for Habitat for Humanity and assisted with a park clean up in Boone, North Carolina.
She has also been active in the campus Catholic Student Association. Under her leadership, members traveled to Hazard County, Ky. and helped a food bank give away Thanksgiving food baskets to those in need.
Flanagan works as a program assistant with Nikki Karabinis, the university’s coordinator of the Center for Community Service. In this role, she creates event posters, T-shirts and flyers, and sets up community service projects for her fellow students.
“Dot is an amazing individual. She is genuinely passionate, caring and an active citizen in our community,” Karabinis said.
Flanagan has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. She hopes to use her degree from Shawnee State to work with non-profit organizations.
“I think it’s especially important for students to become involved in community service projects because it’s a step towards discovering who you are,” said Flanagan. “College is a time to discover and figure out where you fit in within this universal master plan, and I find that community service is a large step towards that. Not only do you discover more about yourself, but also your surroundings.”