Before classes even begin, 65 first-year students at Cornell and 14 upperclass team leaders will provide some 1,500 hours of community service to the Ithaca community Aug. 16-20 as part of the Cornell Public Service Center's Pre-Orientation Service Trips (POST).
"I absolutely loved POST and can honestly say that all my goals were fulfilled!" wrote Lindsey Cohen '12. "I came in not knowing anyone and feeling unfamiliar, but left with great friends and a sense of belonging and purpose! I LOVED being a part of POST!"
Now in its 14th year, POST provides what students have described as the most influential decision of their Cornell experience. Over the years, POST has provided almost 800 new Cornell students with the opportunity to get a head start on making new friends by coming to Ithaca early to work in small teams on daily community service projects. This year, almost 80 Cornell students are spending five days getting oriented and volunteering at more than 20 nonprofit organizations and schools; they spend their evenings getting to know the local community -- and each other -- and their nights camping out in the Appel Commons.
Other than painting, raking, sanding and scrubbing at such organizations as the Cayuga Nature Center, Salvation Army, Southside Community Center and Ithaca Free Clinic, students also participate in a scavenger hunt and contra dancing on the Commons, bowling and a celebratory barbecue at a local park.
Many of the POST projects address issues specific to Tompkins County, including animal rights and rescue, accessibility issues, hunger and poverty, health care and aging, affordable housing and early literacy. Students can choose a site and issue that interests them and have opportunities to discuss issues with agency staff members to explore some of the root causes related to the issue and project.
"We hope that this early introduction will create some long-term and mutually beneficial relationships for both the participants and host organizations," said Renee Farkas, associate director of the Cornell Public Service Center and the POST program coordinator.
The program is co-sponsored by TCAT, which provides assistance with bus passes and travel routes to transport the students to a different work site each day, and Quizno's Subs and ShortStop Deli, which provide lunches for the teams.