Story by Stephen Wilson | Photography by Adam Atkinson

Individual commitment, a common purpose, and active citizenship are key tenets in creating understanding that can both help and heal the world. Each year the Landis Center for Community Engagement recognizes several faculty, students, staff, and community partners who live those tenets. Here are the 2021 Landis Active Citizens.

 

Beth in a red coat sits outside Farinon on a cold morning

Beth Anne Castellano ’22, math
Active in Landis: Pre-Orientation Service Program, volunteering at The Easton Home, elementary school tutor, Best Buddies program coordinator, Holiday Helper, committee director of Disabilities Awareness Week, and program coordinator for Miracle League partnership

When Castellano began volunteering with the Best Buddies program, she never realized how building relationships with individuals with intellectual, physical, and developmental disabilities would transform her life. “There is not one standard way to move through this world,” she says. “So we need to find ways to make the world more accepting and accessible for everyone.” She helped lead educational programming on campus during the pandemic, the first ever Disabilities Awareness Week, which included a panel discussion, a film, and crucial conversation with the College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee. When students returned to campus, volunteer opportunities were limited because of COVID restrictions. Still she found a way to help by building a bridge with the robust Miracle League of Northampton County. While participating with athletes on the field wasn’t possible, a team of Landis volunteers ran the concession stand during games.

Why Heart Landis? “They are focused on meeting the needs of the community, tapping into students’ passion and knowledge, and providing us with the tools to learn, lead, and reflect on our path to become full and active citizens of this world.”

 

Kevin looks off with bright yellow leaves behind him

Kevin Manogue ’22, math and physics
Active in Landis: assistant director for Pard Projects and program coordinator for Building Bridges

Prior to the pandemic, Manogue used his Spanish minor to participate in a parent-and-child language class called Intercambio at the local Salvation Army. Like many things, that program ended during COVID and, sadly, didn’t return as the world opened up again. So Manogue decided to create his own version. Building Bridges meets in the evenings at a local elementary school once a week. Landis volunteers work with two groups. Kids get to play games and complete homework, while parents work on their English as a Second Language skills by discussing useful topics like completing medical forms and food. This is the favorite thing Manogue does on campus because it combines his love of language with his desire for shared learning. “There isn’t a divide between students or teachers,” he says. “Everyone gets something out of it.” He sees nothing but opportunity ahead for the program as so few exist in the area while the need is high.

Why Heart Landis? “It is easy to interact with College Hill students and residents, but it is important to connect with the entire Easton community and understand the meaningful lives of people outside the College. Landis offers us that opportunity and also helps create great friendships and connections with other students as well.”

 

Masked APO members sit inside Hugel lecture hall

Alpha Phi Omega (APO), service fraternity

Lafayette College was the Alpha chapter of the national service fraternity when it began in December 1925. Despite fading from campus in the 1990s, the fraternity was rechartered in January 2018 and has been a commanding presence on the campus and in the Easton community ever since. Members were active downtown this fall for Garlic Fest and BaconFest, and on hand for the weekly farmers market. The group took over leadership of the Kids Who Code program at a local elementary school and have members active in many Landis programs, like America Reads. The chapter also supports members’ individual passion projects, which included a recent trip to the local animal shelter where they helped clean and play with cats. This year’s pledge class of 20 students is working on a larger service project, while all members picked up 30 pounds of litter on campus in two hours as part of the organization’s national service week focused on environmental sustainability. The members’ goal is to educate and activate students and the broader Easton community, and then leverage what they learn by applying it to wider and more systemic issues that burden the country.

Why Heart Landis? “The center is a gateway to the community and overlaps with so much that our members care about and are involved in.”

 

Michael and Jed lean on the outside corner of Hogg Hall

Michael Aronson ’23, mechanical engineering
Jed Alterman ’23, mechanical engineering
Active in: Engineers Without Borders

Both joined Engineers Without Borders (EWB) as first-year students. After COVID interruptions, they are now on the executive board and making up for lost time. They have relied on their faculty advisers, Art Kney, professor of civil engineering and director of Landis Center, and Toby Rossmann, associate professor of mechanical engineering, to help them connect with the community and assist with ideas and execution. And ideas are flowing! They completed three projects: building adaptive equipment for dogs in need at the local shelter, providing design proposals for a new pedestrian bridge on the Karl Stirner Arts Trail, and constructing two benches at the Easton Urban Farm. Seven other projects are still in the works: rainwater collection at a local farm; a community bike share; assisting the Easton Area High School robotics team; making micro food pantries; building camping shelters at Delaware Canal State Park; partnering on a mobile thrift store; and adding skateboarding elements to pocket parks across Easton. Why so industrious? “I always have enjoyed service work, but it wasn’t always related to my academic interests,” says Alterman. “EWB connects us to the community, enriches our education, and makes me excited to do something good in the world.” Aronson adds, “We are learning while also making an impact.”

Why Heart Landis? “Landis serves as the backbone to its work, helping connect the club with community partners and service opportunities in the local area. Watching the leaders at Landis also provides a glimpse into how to build relationships and move projects forward that is less about engineering and more about navigating people and personalities.”

 

Annie smiles in front of a wall of lights

Annie Krege ’23, English and film and media studies
Active in Landis: director of Pard Projects, such as programs like Holiday Helpers and Lafarmapalooza, co-director of Pre-Orientation Service Program, and America Reads

When the pandemic limited direct service opportunities in the Easton community, even after students returned to campus, Krege sought to find a way to unite students on a project. In lieu of Lafapalooza, which sends students into action across the city, she and a team of others created Lafarmapalooza. So the Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (SEES) got to work building compost tumblers while Krege rounded up students to fill four 90-minute shifts at LaFarm to harvest potatoes and tomatoes, plant strawberries, prep strawberry beds, clean fields, weed, and ready onions and garlic for LaFarm tomato sauce. The event was such a success that it will find its way into the regular rotation of annual service opportunities. Holiday Helper, a seasonal mainstay, ran through November, asking people to sponsor holiday gifts that are given to low-income families supported by The Easton Neighborhood Center and St. Luke’s Nurse Family Partnership. Again, the Lafayette community has been generous with its support.

Why Heart Landis? “Landis promotes well-rounded community engagement, which is different from service. Community engagement combines education, direct action, and reflection. Those components make the work more meaningful for volunteers and community partners. It provides a way to take insights to create improvements within the way we do service.”

 

Jeanine sits in front of a wall that explains Paxinosa school's namesake

Jeannine Stanilious, community school coordinator, Paxinosa Elementary

Stanilious was first introduced to Landis Center four years ago when a pilot program at Paxinosa Elementary was developed that connected Lafayette faculty with elementary teachers. This program, Connected Classrooms, has Lafayette and Paxinosa students work together through cooperatively developed hands-on learning modules. The pilot program amazed elementary students as they toured the campus and became aware of what a college is. Since then, Stanilious has served as a liaison between many teachers, students, and families, and brought numerous programs to the school, including Attendance Ambassadors, Kids Who Code, Read Across America, Building Bridges, and Earn Your Spots. Whether assisting with literacy or life skills, students are gaining confidence, altering ambitions, and thriving.

Why Heart Landis? “Landis does so much for our school and community. It offers amazing programs as well as sees opportunities to create new offerings. The sports teams, student clubs, and organizations continue to share their knowledge and skills with our students, as well as our community.”

 

Scott stands outside on the field

Scott Bieda, assistant coach, men’s lacrosse

When Bieda joined the team in 2017, community service work wasn’t the hallmark of the program that it is today. His passion for it may have helped. Giving back was ingrained in him from when he played the game. When head coach Patrick Myers joined the program, they shared this passion and took it to the next level. So far this academic year, the team has already amassed 430 hours of community service. But as Bieda makes clear, it is not about the hours. Instead, it is about the idea of serving and giving to a greater purpose. Lacrosse is just a game, and wins and losses will come and go; however, making someone’s day is everlasting. The team has helped Landis and the Lehigh Valley Volunteer Center with countless projects, but they focus many hours helping at Easton Area Neighborhood Center’s Urban Farm, Second Harvest Food Bank, and 2nd & 7 Foundation. The spirit has caught on as players now propose ideas and events to the coaches. Just recently, current player James Turco came up with the idea to do a car wash to help raise money for a disease his mom was diagnosed with. Together, they raised over $1,200. Bieda also leads the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. What started with four lacrosse players now has nearly 50 members across all sports. Together, they let their guard down and talk openly about their spiritual lives.

Why Heart Landis? “They do a great job of letting us know about the opportunities in the community and communicating them to us.”

 

Civic Leadership at Lafayette

Landis Center for Community Engagement

Supporting community-based learning and research activities at Lafayette by facilitating partnerships between the campus and Easton communities

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Categorized in: Campus life, Community, Community-Based Learning and Research, Featured News, Landis Center, News and Features, Students

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