At any given moment of any day, the chances are that Psi Chi members are serving others somewhere. Consider the fact that there are now more than 1,000 Psi Chi chapters, and that the vast majority of these chapters are involved in some type of service activity. Take a moment to imagine the collective scope of these acts of service, and the difference this service is making in individual lives, in local communities, and in our world. One hour of volunteer work performed by one Psi Chi member might seem like a relatively "small" act of service, but even one hour can make a difference. Moreover, when you multiply that act of service by the thousands of other Psi Chi members who are contributing, the cumulative impact of our members' service to others is immeasurable.
We have highlighted here a few examples of service performed by our chapters and members. We include their accounts here, in their own words (with acknowledgments of authorship if known), to provide a sample of the countless acts of service that are continuing every day around the country, and even throughout the world. As a prologue to these accounts, we offer a few words from the Psi Chi chapter at Florida International University, describing what service projects and activities mean to its members.
One Step at a Time
By the Florida International University Psi Chi Chapter
(picture) Florida International University chapter president (left) and vice-president Carla Marin (right) are pictured at the "Horses & Handicap" activity, where members helped physically impaired children live the dream of one day riding a horse.
Community service projects offer many benefits to students. Service projects provide the opportunity for team-building and the strengthening of interpersonal working relationships among members, the chance to get to know one's neighborhood and its needs, and the chance to learn about relevant social issues. Psi Chi's service projects also provide a chance to grow as an individual. Planning or contributing to a community service project allows you to develop your commitment, professionalism, and assertiveness. Every project is different, and each reflects the individuality of the students involved in the planning process. In addition, community service can add more meaning to academic study by giving you the chance to apply what you have learned to an actual work situation.
Working with others on solutions to problems will contribute to gaining self-confidence and to the development of skills and abilities that are applicable to future careers. "I felt that I not only contributed to my community, but I formed networks for future community services," says chapter historian Jocelyn Feliz. Serving others can also give you great satisfaction, as you influence the world around you for good. People often underestimate their personal contributions and their ability to make a difference. Community involvement develops an increased awareness of others' needs and a greater consciousness of your role in, and responsibility to, society.
In conclusion, we, the Psi Chi chapter at Florida International University, believe it is important for our members to become involved in their communities. We believe that each of us has a moral obligation to help one another. After all, we all need help at some time. Every time we look at the television or read a newspaper, we see that others are in need of help. By reaching out, we help break down isolation and allow people to see goodness in others; we help make connections that reinforce humanity.
California State University, San Marcos
Last year, members and officers had the opportunity to visit Polinsky Children's Center in Claremont, Calif. Polinsky serves as a shelter for boys and girls, ranging from elementary to middle school, who are considered "high risk." Our chapter members took materials for arts and crafts, and donated toys for prizes. We were also able to have some physical activities like volleyball and basketball. It was a wonderful experience for members and children alike. I asked Melissa Kimball, president of our chapter, what the experience meant to her, and she told me that "it was a privilege to work with children who don't have a lot of social interaction outside the center." Melissa was touched when the children asked if the members would come back again. It is our hope to make this an annual community event. It is amazing what an impact we can have by stepping outside of our own self-interest and doing something for others.
—Trisha Herrin-Cantrell, chapter secretary
The College of the Ozarks (MO)
The Psi Chi chapter at the College of the Ozarks organizes several service projects each semester, and the two that have had the best community recognition have been (a) volunteering to assist at Branderosa Therapeutic Equestrian Resort (a Horse Therapy Ranch) for disabled children and (b) planting and cultivating trees for the community at a nonprofit tree farm.
The Horse Therapy Ranch was created to improve the quality of life of mentally and/or physically disabled people as well as people with autism. It helps them gain balance, encourages speech and activity, gives a sense of independence, and is a creative and fun way to get exercise for people with disabilities. At the Horse Therapy Ranch, chapter members volunteer their time to work on a variety of tasks at least twice a semester—from helping the children work with the horses to repairing and improving the facilities. Our last effort was directed toward upgrading the amenities. The children, families, and ranch management are grateful for all the help we offered.
The other ongoing service project involves volunteer work three times each semester for a nonprofit tree farm that raises and plants trees to beautify the community. Saplings are donated to the Gift of Green Project from the Missouri Department of Conservation. Some of the saplings are given to community members to restore vegetation that is destroyed via forestry or urban development, and volunteers at the tree farm tend to the rest of them. We usually go to the Tree Farm first for seedlings, then replant them into larger containers, and then plant them later around Branson (Mo.) to enhance the town with a variety of trees, many of which are not native to this area. The idea behind the project is to beautify the community and keep the "wonder of the Ozarks."
As part of the chapter's service to the campus, three guest speaker programs are held on campus each semester to address issues of concern for students. The speakers are often psychologists who are community leaders. Attendance at these monthly events has averaged 160 students and faculty for the one-hour presentations. One group that has been brought back each year is the NAMI [National Alliance for Mental Illness] group who shares their stories of living with mental illness. A year ago, the chapter organized four one-hour sessions for the community entitled "Against the Odds: Strategies for Life." The sessions were held at the local hospital conference room, and the goals were to make psychology accessible and understandable to the community by providing life principles, skills, and mental health resources that can improve one's quality of life. Sessions were held once a week from 7-9 p.m., and each session was led by different Psi Chi members. The "Against the Odds" sessions were advertised through the college, a hospital, and local newspapers, and had a small but consistent attendance during the four presentations. Many Psi Chi members were involved in working on the project and making the main presentations. The president of the chapter at that time, David Dalton, was the primary leader of the project. The chapter's efforts were greatly appreciated by the hospital's social service office, and the chapter was asked to repeat the program for the hospital staff in the coming year. With these positive results from the community, the chapter is considering holding similar presentations on campus.
Emporia State University (KS)
Our Psi Chi chapter has long emphasized a commitment to service, and we have been involved in a variety of service projects in the past, or the discipline of psychology and for the community. We have participated in national Psi Chi projects (e.g., "Pencils and Pens for Malawi"), helped staff the Psi Chi hospitality suite at the national convention, collected cans of food for the Salvation Army, and visited residents of the Senior Center. Annually, we donate money from our fundraisers to support the Journal of Psychological Inquiry and other selected projects and needs, and we cosponsor the department's annual start-of-the-year picnic. We invite the campus to attend all of our speaker presentations. Last March, the chapter was very involved in hosting the 2002 Great Plains Students Psychology Convention held at Emporia State University. With regard to community service, we have concentrated in the past 10 years on maintaining a constant presence through two service activities for the community rather than doing something once or twice and not doing it again.
In 1990, the chapter entered the Adopt-A-Highway program with the Kansas Department of Transportation. We were assigned a two-mile stretch of K-99 highway about five miles south of Emporia. Every fall and spring since then, chapter members have gathered on selected Saturday mornings, regardless of the weather, with gloves, bags, and orange vests. We drive out to the site and pick up trash on both sides of the road for the entire two miles. We have found many interesting items over the past 12 years!
Our second service project is Christmas in April. Unlike Habitat for Humanity, which builds new homes, Christmas in April concentrates on renovating deteriorated homes owned by people who lack the resources to fix them. Homes in the community are nominated, and the Christmas in April Board reviews applications, selecting 6 to 10 homes for improvement at no cost to the owners. Our chapter volunteers each year, and on the first Saturday in April, chapter members are assigned a specific house and a specific responsibility for that house. In the past, chapter members have scraped walls to prepare for painting, painted, worked on yards, and cleaned gutters.
Florida International University
(picture) Psi Chi participated in the Americorp's Family Fair, helping parents of underprivileged kids become aware of various social programs available to them.
In the fall of 2002, our chapter participated in various community service projects, including Christmas caroling at a local hospital, can and toy drives, and Habitat for Humanity, all of which benefited the less fortunate during the holiday season. Patty Hernandez, our corresponding secretary, said it best when she stated, "My favorite project has to be the Best Buddies Carnival Day." This is a carnival at which Psi Chi members spent the day with mentally challenged kids. Members helped set up booths, served food, and played games with the children.
Psi Chi members also participated in a gun buy-back, where people from the community turn in their guns in exchange for gift certificates from local vendors. At the Relay for Life and Race for the Cure, we helped raised money for Breast Cancer by running a 5K race.
Two projects that our members organized were the Crusade for Darkness & Silence, in which we collected used eyeglasses and hearing aids for the elderly, and Horses & Handicap, in which we helped physically impaired children live the dream of one day riding a horse. We also organized events that helped beautify our South Florida waters, such as a beach cleanup, and we participated in the Americorp's Family Fair, which helps parents of underprivileged kids become aware of various programs that are available to them when they need help.
Friends University (KS)
(picture) Friends University Psi Chi sponsors a Christmas Party each year, an event that has received significant coverage in the local media and has increased the chapter's visibility on campus.
The Psi Chi chapter at Friends University has been involved with service projects for several years now. This year we have four major projects underway, all of which involve our psychology majors, and two of which involve the entire student body.
Anthony Family Shelter. For the past several years, Anthony Family Shelter has been part of our Adopt-a-Shelter program. We serve the Saturday evening meal once a month at the shelter. On some occasions we have spent the entire afternoon in order to give the parents a break while we play with the children, paint some rooms, or hold a soccer or basketball camp in the afternoon.
Adopt a Family. This year, one of our students who is doing an internship at Anthony Family Shelter formed an attachment to a single mom with three children, as they were leaving Anthony Family Shelter to move to transition housing. We have adopted them as our family for the entire year, and so far we have been involved in trick-or-treating, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas, a mom's day out, and a birthday party for all three of her little boys. Future plans call for ice skating, a carnival, and a day at the zoo.
Campuswide Coat Drive. This year our Psi Chi Executive Committee decided to sponsor a campuswide coat drive to gather warm clothing for those in need to stay warm during the winter. In two weeks we collected over 70 coats to be distributed through the Interfaith Ministry "Warm Hands" program here in Wichita (Kans.). The response from the director was very positive, and the newsletter of the Interfaith Ministries cited us and praised the work of our students and Psi Chi.
Christmas For Kids - Friends For Kids. Each year for the past few years we have sponsored a short-term Big Brothers program referred to as Christmas for Kids in the fall and Friends for Kids in the spring. Our students are matched two-to-one in a mentoring relationship with a child from a single-parent, low-income household. The students take the child to four events that are sponsored and paid for by student government but are directed by the Psychology Club and Psi Chi. The total involvement for both semesters will be over 250 students on our campus, and we will adopt approximately 140 children for these eight events (four each semester).
Christmas Party. The last event of our fall activities is a Christmas Party (see photo below). This particular project has received significant coverage in the local newspaper and on the three local television stations, and has served us well in creating a higher visibility on our campus, since it involves students of all majors and all ages. This event has been so successful that Student Government has taken on the funding of the project, and our communications department handles all of the public relations, media reporting, etc.
These projects have all served to pull Psi Chi together and help us to "turn outward," which I believe is vital to any organization, whether academic or social. We look forward to whatever opportunities may come our way in the coming years, but right now we "have our hands full."
--Dr. Bill Allan, chapter advisor
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
(picture) Psi Chi chapter reports a wide variety of service projects. Standing, from left: Dr. Lynda Federoff (faculty advisor), Joe Lacko (chapter member and author of this service report), and Sarah Walker (chapter vice-president). Seated: Matthew Whited (social/membership chair), Erin-Caitlin Rinker (chapter member), and Dan Johnson (chapter copresident).
IUP Psi Chi Reaches Out to the Community. December 12 marked the third annual gift wrapping party held by the Indiana University of Pennsylvania chapter of Psi Chi. The event is coordinated by the chapter, utilizing donations of food, clothing, and cash gifts to help needy families in Indiana County (Pa.).
Each year, needy families—sponsored by the chapter through the Indiana County Community Action Program's (ICCAP) Adopt-A-Family program—receive gift-wrapped clothing and other supplies donated to Psi Chi by concerned members of the IUP and Indiana communities, as well as new gifts requested by the families and purchased through Psi Chi funds raised throughout the year.
"We are always looking for ways to give back to the community," said Miranda Garay, who serves as the chapter's copresident along with Dan Johnson. "We feel that giving directly to members of that community is the best way to go about it."
Early in the fall semester, the IUP chapter contacts ICCAP to identify families and individuals in need. Psi Chi members then hold coffee/donut, T-shirt, and book sales, and also solicit clothing and toy donations from faculty and students. Funds collected throughout the semester, as well as cash gifts donated by faculty members, are used to purchase items specifically suited to each family. These items, along with the donated clothing, are gift-wrapped by Psi Chi members in time for Christmas. This year, a faculty member also donated turkeys for each family, which were delivered along with the gifts.
"Last year, we were excited to serve one family, but people have been generous enough this year with their donations that we are able to support three families," said Garay. "We were able to buy plenty of household items to gift-wrap along with the clothing donations."
"Freely giving is what the spirit of Christmas is all about, and it feels that much more special when you know you're helping people that you've never even met," said Dr. Lynda Federoff, psychology professor and Psi Chi advisor. "Just like last year, we actually filled a pickup truck with wrapped presents because the entire Psychology Department and other concerned people have been getting increasingly involved every year."
The heightened involvement in the Adopt-A-Family project parallels increased involvement in Psi Chi itself. "We have 40 members now and lots more involvement than we had just a few years ago," explained Federoff. "Dan and Miranda are able to delegate the work because we are truly blessed with members who are getting increasingly active."
In addition to Adopt-A-Family, the IUP chapter has held fundraising events for the American Red Cross, ICCAP, and other local philanthropies. They have assisted children at the IUP Newman Center Mardi Gras celebration, worked with residents of St. Andrew's Village, supported the local chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness, and volunteered at Torrance State Hospital.
Members use their volunteer experiences to build community with one another. In the past, this has included an informal bowling event in addition to the gift-wrapping party and more formal events such as biweekly meetings, information gathering about volunteer opportunities within the local community, and colloquia on topics such as internships, graduate school applications, and GRE preparation.
"Psi Chi has been a great way to connect peers and faculty as well," said Johnson. "You find, as a Psi Chi member, that you're surrounded with people who care about your field as passionately as you do."
—Joseph Lacko, Psi Chi member and student writer, IUP Media Relations (edited by Lynda Federoff, PhD, chapter advisor)
James Madison University (VA)
The James Madison University chapter of Psi Chi is active in a variety of service projects, and we are particularly proud of our service record within both the university community and the local Harrisonburg (Va.) community.
Within the university community, members reach out to students enrolled in psychology courses to offer one-on-one tutoring. At the beginning of each semester, Psi Chi members submit to the tutoring coordinator the names of courses in which they performed extremely well and for which they feel capable of providing tutoring. Through advertisements in weekly electronic publications, students who want assistance are encouraged to contact the tutoring coordinator, who sets up the tutoring pairs. We find this activity rewarding, not only because we are able to help our fellow students achieve academic excellence, but also because it helps us to solidify what we have learned in our psychology classes by working in a teaching capacity.
In the Harrisonburg area, we participate in food drives to help support a local shelter for battered women and their children, as well as other charity events to help disadvantaged families.
In addition, a particularly meaningful event for our members in recent years is Relay for Life, an annual overnight fundraising event sponsored by the American Cancer Society, in which money is raised to help fund cancer research, to increase community awareness of cancer control and prevention, and to honor those who have battled the disease. During this 12-hour event, teams of 8-15 members camp out around the football stadium while at least one member from the team runs, jogs, or walks on the track at all times.
Psi Chi members work for months to solicit donations from family and friends and to sell luminaries—bags filled with sand that contain a candle that is individually decorated in honor or in memory of a loved one. After sunset on the evening of the event, the luminaries are lit in a very moving ceremony. In the past two years that James Madison University has hosted the event, coordinators placed the luminaries in the bleachers, spelling out "JMU CARES."
Harrisonburg Relay for Life Coordinator Wendy Osinkosky stated, "Relay For Life gives [Psi Chi] students the opportunity to build bridges between campus and community," as well as "to sink energy into an important cause, and feel like they are a part of something substantial in the fight against cancer." As an organization, Psi Chi members are proud to have come together to raise over $5,500 during the past two years. Because of events like these, the JMU chapter of Psi Chi enjoys a positive reputation for community service, and strives to continue reaching out to those around us through new and different service projects.
Pace University (NYC Campus)
(picture) Psi Chi chapter, situated only a few blocks from the World Trade Center, has reached out to neighboring elementary school students affected by 9/11.
The importance and value of giving to others comes with immeasurable benefits, and these result in a chapter's growth and prominence. As president of the Pace University chapter of Psi Chi, my experience has allowed me to see the unity and passion of our members and their drive to volunteer and give to the community that surrounds us. We follow and share the mission of our fellow Psi Chi chapters to be a beacon of tolerance, empathy, and understanding, and to be able to contribute these crucial marks to everyday life.
The reality of living in a world that is post-9/11 creates a life no one could have imagined; however, that has not hindered or defied our desire to serve the community. Pace University, being situated only a few blocks away from the World Trade Center, was left forever marked with the events of that day, but what drove the concern in our chapter members were the neighboring elementary schools. As university students, there is a certain maturity that can be utilized to begin a means of understanding, yet these children would not only have to comprehend the absence of the massive edifices, but how this could impact their future. In such trying times we decided to bring a bit of normalcy into the life of these children and host a Halloween party. The event was such a success that Psi Chi hosted "Scareoween II: The Haunted Ceremony" this past Halloween. The celebration was expanded to include a haunted house and the participation of more children. This is an event that will continue to grow at Pace University.
Diversity is an integral factor that all of society celebrates; the differences that we share as human beings adds to the wealth of education we acquire via each individual. During Latin Heritage Month, Psi Chi was proud to present events at which Latinos were portrayed as a strong, vibrant culture with immense amounts of beauty, history, and unity to share. A specific event that was hosted by Psi Chi was "Ritmo y Salsa," a celebration filled with traditional foods, history, music, and dance. The event incorporated the gamut of talent inherent within the Latino community. The salsa dancers left the audience clapping and in awe with their intricate turns and steps, but the dancers were not the only ones creating amazing steps--soon everyone had the urge to dance. I was personally impacted at this event; being Latina and having the opportunity to celebrate and share my culture with the university and other members of my chapter encouraged me to be proud of who I am and what I can offer to, and share with, my fellow members.
As an active chapter of Psi Chi, these are only two of the many themes that we incorporate throughout the year. There is a continual focus on academics, career opportunities, stress management, volunteer activities, and collaborative events. As president, I hope that the chapter will continue its drive to excellence.
--Natasha Larrondo, chapter president
Pace University (Pleasantville Campus, NY)
Psi Chi at Pace University-Pleasantville has undergone significant changes in the past couple of years through revitalization, which has fostered growth and leadership among its members. During the past two years, this chapter has hosted a variety of discussions, events, and volunteer experiences, which have increased support, exposure, and membership.
The chapter continuously takes part in a multitude of service projects throughout each semester. One of our ongoing off-campus service projects is the adopting of the Diagnostic Cottage at the Pleasantville Cottage School in Thornwood, N.Y., which houses underprivileged children. We visit their facility once a month to decorate for the holidays and encourage participation in games and activities, and Psi Chi members attempt to help children have fun and develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments. Phina Geiger, director of volunteers at Pleasantville Cottage School, stated, "All the children from the cottages look forward every month to when Psi Chi comes and plans a fun event. Psi Chi is a great organization, giving opportunities to children that they may never have otherwise."
Not only did the chapter plan events like tie-dyeing socks/T-shirts and decorating pumpkins with children from the Diagnostic Cottage, we also took the children off grounds to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J., and on a pumpkin-picking trip in upstate New York.
In addition to our work at the Pleasantville Cottage School, some of our chapter's most successful community service projects include working with Habitat for Humanity, organizing the annual March of Dimes Walk on campus for the last three years, and volunteering at Blythesdale Children's Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y.
Psi Chi, along with Pace University's Honors College, annually organizes an event that wraps holiday gifts for children with emotional and social disorders who reside in residential treatment centers. Every year over 300 toys are obtained with money donated by the Student Government Association, and in the past over 120 students took part in the event.
During Homecoming Week 2002, Psi Chi cosponsored Drinking Awareness Week with Sigma Iota Chi sorority. This event included the hosting of an emotional discussion from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), distributing around the university a number of flyers and posters that provided facts on drinking and driving, and asking students to pledge to drink responsibly during Homecoming (if students chose to drink at all, they pledged to not drink and drive). Chapter president Christopher Walther stated, "There were no reported drunk-driving accidents, bar fights, or alcohol poisonings during Homecoming weekend. We believe that this statistic is largely due to the efforts of everyone involved during that week and attribute this to a successful effort in preventing drunk driving."
The chapter asked the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) to send a representative with a mood disorder to talk to students and faculty about their own personal experience of living with a disorder. Psi Chi chapter treasurer Peter Karellas remarked, "It's one thing to study psychological disorders from a textbook or learn about them in a classroom; it's entirely different to witness someone living with a disorder relaying their experiences to you."
On campus, we have developed a psychology tutoring program through Psi Chi's e-mail address, where students can ask the chapter psychology-related questions and receive educated and quick responses. This was a great idea to increase the acknowledgment of Psi Chi within the Pace community, while helping fellow students in need.
Last year, one of the chapter's great accomplishments was creating the Psychology Club for those students who do not meet the requirements of Psi Chi. This gives students an opportunity to have their own way of participating in psychology-related events, with the hopes of meeting the requirements of Psi Chi in the near future. Kelly Tozzi, cofounder and president of the Psychology Club, stated, "This is a way for freshmen and those students who do not qualify for Psi Chi to be active psychology students on campus. We are now one of the largest clubs on campus."
These are some of the ways our chapter has become involved and given back to the community. This type of service has allowed us to become who we are today and has encouraged future leaders of our organization to flourish. We hope each Psi Chi chapter around the country continues to develop a better understanding of what community projects are out there for college students to take part in. It is up to each organization to go out and find these programs and then organize them using their chapter and institutional resources.
Saint Anselm College (NH)
Psi Chi, psychology's national honor society, emphasizes the importance of supporting, inspiring, and upholding excellence in scholarly activities, while advancing the field of psychology as a whole. The Saint Anselm College Psi Chi chapter, as part of the Eastern Region, adheres to the importance of each of the aforementioned emphasized activities. Our chapter encourages its members to participate in activities that not only enhance scholastic excellence, but that make contributions to the field of psychology as well. Consequently, the encouragement leads to action, and the members of our chapter engage in various activities on a group level by participating in within-chapter activities, and also on an individual level through their participation in community-based activities--activities that indirectly advance the field.
As a group, the members of the Saint Anselm College Psi Chi chapter make an active effort to attain the goals of Psi Chi by organizing and participating in activities that augment academic excellence and that promote field experience. The chapter's many group activities include organizing the Senior Poster Session, promoting and financially aiding regional conference attendance by our students, and organizing review sessions for the seniors who are required to take the Major Field Achievement Test (MFAT).
In addition to being active group members, many of our chapter's members are active participants in, as well as leaders and coordinators of, a number of community service-based activities. For example, two of our officers and several of our members have participated in our Campus Ministry's Spring Break Alternative program, a program that gives students an opportunity to spend their spring break aiding communities in need in several locations (e.g., Costa Rica, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky). Other activities that some members participate in annually include Urban Immersion, the Children's Holiday Fair, and the Special Olympics' Swim Meet, Bowling, and Valentine's Day Dance. One of the daily volunteer activities that our members are involved with is the Service Learning program, which gives students the opportunity to provide 20 hours worth of service in order to make connections between, and applications with, classroom-based knowledge and community-based activity. Some of the sites at which our members have served include the New Hampshire Youth Development Center, Midway Shelter, Hillsborough County Nursing Home, Bartlett Elementary School, Manchester Developmental Preschool, and New Horizons.
The members of Saint Anselm College's Psi Chi Chapter, as a group and as individuals, are active in their endeavors to attain Psi Chi's goals and maintain its values, pursuing scholastic excellence and advancing the field, while at the same time benefiting the community—the psychological community as well as the general community.
—Christine Sansone, chapter vice-president
University of Delaware
The members of the University of Delaware chapter of Psi Chi have been involved in a number of service activities this past year. We've been tutoring and mentoring students at the College School, an on-campus instructional facility at the University of Delaware whose mission is to provide quality care for elementary-level students with mild to moderate learning and behavioral disabilities. Each volunteer met with an individual student throughout the semester. Not only did our volunteers offer academic tutoring, they also made a marked effort to present each child with a positive role model and to be a friend. "We certainly appreciated the efforts of each and every person. I hope that we will have more Psi Chi members come back to tutor this semester," stated Marty McDonough, director of the College School.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday season, we organized trips for members to volunteer their time and energy at the A. I. Dupont Children's Hospital. We spent time playing simple games with the children, engaging in cheerful conversation, and making fun holiday crafts. Our goal was to help the children to have fun and to take their minds off of their difficult circumstances. Spending time in a hospital can be difficult for children, and we hope that our smiles, high spirits, and amusing games made a difference in their day. "The experience to visit and share in the lives of such brave children showed me that difficulties of any size can be overcome, despite age, if the person has the strength to overcome them," said Chrissy DeRiso, a Psi Chi member who volunteered at the Dupont Hospital.
The on-campus Academic Services program offered our chapter members an opportunity to tutor our peers. We have considered it an honor and a privilege to help other psychology majors who are struggling with their course work.
At the last meeting of the fall 2002 semester, we collected toys for donation to Toys for Tots. Every member made generous donations that we hope contributed to making children's holidays a little bit brighter.
If you would like to learn more about the University of Delaware chapter, please visit our website at http://copland.udel.edu/stu-org/psichi/index_body.htm.
—Nicole Belliveau, corresponding secretary; Cindy Smith, administrative secretary; Kelly Kristobak, vice-president of correspondence; Dr. Julie Hubbard, faculty advisor
University of Illinois at Chicago
We strongly pride ourselves in service to the community. The simple act of donating blood each year leads to the successful recovery of innumerable hospitalized citizens. Therefore, our blood drives, held each semester, hold special importance to our chapter, as well to the University of Illinois Medical Center to which we donate. Ms. Samantha DiMaggio, blood/apheresis donor recruiter for the University of Illinois Hospital Blood Bank, has helped our blood drives become a reality. When asked about our chapter's involvement, Ms. DiMaggio commented, "Blood banks around the United States are faced with a daily challenge to collect blood. Psi Chi of University of Illinois at Chicago sponsors lifesaving blood drives that save the lives of patients at University of Illinois Hospital. One blood donor saves three lives with one donation. Thanks to Psi Chi's support and hard work, very ill patients at our hospital can live."
—Amy Barbara Carrington, chapter president (2002-03)
University of Massachusetts Amherst
The University of Massachusetts Amherst chapter of Psi Chi, with the help of our faculty advisor, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, participates actively in service events to benefit the surrounding community. During the 2001-02 school year, Psi Chi was involved in the event known as "Into Amherst," in which volunteers are given a task that directly helps the needy and disadvantaged of Amherst, such as helping with repairs of such structures as houses and fences. It has been a wonderful way to improve the lives of a variety of different people with diverse needs.
The chapter also participated in community service activities at the Arbors Assisted Living Facility located in our community. During the 2001-02 school year, Psi Chi members led a panel discussion on "Nature Versus Nurture" and visited with the residents. This year, we are planning to develop Easter and Passover arts and crafts activities that we will help the residents complete. The residents also enjoy other activities we engage in with them, including taking long walks, discussing interesting topics, and playing games.
Car washes have also been a way for our Psi Chi chapter to become visible in the community. They are advertised as "free," but of course we are always willing to accept small donations (typically $5)! We have found that this activity is an excellent "bonding" opportunity and a way of helping students develop friendships with other members.
Each year the University of Massachusetts participates in the United Way campaign in which faculty, staff, and graduate students are encouraged to donate part of their paychecks to this charitable organization. Psi Chi has helped in these efforts by rewarding Psychology Department members who donate to the United Way with a free cup of coffee on the day they make their pledges. This activity not only supports the university's public service efforts, but also helps attract customers to the Psi Chi coffee table, thereby helping support our own fundraising efforts.
Another campus-wide service activity in which Psi Chi participates is the "No Food" collection campaign over the holiday season. We have a drop-off box in the psychology building for collection of nonfood items, and we donate all collections to the local shelters.
We are currently investigating the possibility of helping local high school students begin a psychology club, an activity that will help attract new students into the field as well as provide mentoring and support to children and adolescents in the community.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
On October 31, 2002, a large group of chapter officers and members went trick-or-treating for canned goods for Childhaven, a local temporary placement facility for Valley residents who have been removed from their homes. We had a great time! Every member who attended the trick-or-treating event was dressed in costume, from little devils to Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. The neighbors were warned a week ahead of time so that they would know what our intentions were. In some cases, neighbors who were not home left bags of cans out for us. We collected over 350 cans that evening. One neighbor was quoted as saying, "This was the kindest thing I have ever seen done on this holiday, and I can't wait to contribute again next year!"
The Special Olympics came to town for a fundraising drive, and our chapter was right there to assist them. We collected money by standing on a major street corner with a sign, and people either came by and dropped money in our bucket or we went out to cars that were stopped on the road for a light and collected it ourselves.
Our chapter has begun calling out bingo on a regular basis for a local retirement home. The residents love it. Not only do they enjoy the bingo, but as one resident said, "We love to have the young blood in here perking up the environment."
The chapter has helped out on campus as well. Chapter members have assisted a substance abuse program 2-3 times this past semester, going to classes and educating students on the necessity of alcohol abuse prevention. Members have also assisted the Women's Center with rape consciousness on campus, and also by providing assistance with the center's production of The Vagina Monologues by the famed writer Eve Ensler.
So, as you can see, we are very busy down here in Las Vegas with a variety of service projects above and beyond our weekly meetings and chapter duties. We intend to keep it up!
—Monica Beisecker, chapter president
University of Wisconsin - Madison
The University of Wisconsin-Madison chapter handles involvement of its members in volunteer placements on two levels. As a group, the chapter project is to provide a tutoring service, which is available free to students in beginning-level courses. More significantly, these tutors are involved with the TRIO program, a campus-wide service for minority or disabled students.
One of our chapter's requirements for its members is experience as a community volunteer within an agency serving various special populations. This commitment is an ongoing one, and is considered part of the member's dedication to the field of psychology. Because Madison is rich in possibilities, these experiences cover a wide spectrum of agencies dealing with various age groups and many special needs. Each issue of the Majors Newsletter (three a year) includes one of these opportunities, providing information about how others can participate.
Many members are working with the Early Autism Project, providing trained services to children and their families. One volunteer stated, "This experience has sparked my interest to pursue a graduate program where I can do research in this area."
Emily Crawford, a former member now graduated, founded "Volunteers for Veterans," which has continued with a Psi Chi coordinator who recruits a replacement in this role when the coordinator graduates. Emily noticed that some veterans at the local VA hospital lacked community contacts. "I decided to pair a student volunteer with a veteran to meet within the hospital setting or take part in community activities," she said, and thus, an idea was born.
Several members work with Briar Patch, a service for troubled adolescents, with the Rape Crisis Center, and with the Parental Stress Center. A significant aspect of these agencies is their very thorough training programs of 60-80 hours before a volunteer begins work. As a result, at least a year's commitment is needed. Although there is an annual volunteer placement fair on campus, involvement with these covered experiences tends to be through word of mouth between chapter members who want an ongoing rather than a less structured experience. All these efforts that link campus with community are coordinated at the Margridge Center on the Madison campus. The center lists placements with thorough descriptions, runs the volunteer fair and various workshops, and advises prospective agencies and volunteers on exact placements that meet their needs.
The most recent contact has come from the director of ARC House, who has requested female Psi Chi students to aid their staff. ARC House is a halfway house for women and their young children as those women make a transition from prison to the community. The director states that advanced students in psychology have some of the skills she wants for effective communication with residents of the house.
Western Carolina University (NC)
At Western Carolina University, our location between the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains has had a substantial influence on the nature of our chapter's service activities. Several years ago our chapter adopted Balsam Mountain Road, a route that leads up to an entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our outings for the road cleanup provide a chance for socializing while we help maintain the beauty of our region. Psi Chi chapter treasurer Janelle Chockla says, "It's actually more fun than just picking up trash," and Wes Hoke notes that during the cleanup outings, "We get to spend time outside of the classroom getting to know other students and the professors in a more personal way while we help our local community and the environment."
Another environmentally oriented project that chapter members have participated in with other university groups is the Tuckaseegee River Cleanup. The Tuckaseegee is the most widely used river in Western North Carolina for recreation. Chad Lakey, our chapter's president, thinks it is great that you get to raft down the river among beautiful mountains while you work, "and they even give you a T-shirt." This spring, the chapter will be adding one more form of environmentally related service at the family counseling center where chapter vice-president Justin Simpson works. Justin has arranged for Psi Chi to build a therapeutic hiking trail from the center offices to the Little Tennessee River, giving the residents and staff additional opportunities to use the outdoors in their work.
In addition to these ecological contributions, the Psi Chi chapter regularly participates in other service opportunities. Lately we have turned the traditional bake sale fundraiser into a means of serving others. We advertise our sales as benefiting both the chapter and some other needy organization or individuals. Half of the proceeds go to the other cause. For example, the income from one bake sale went to 9/11 victims, and another to the family of a cancer victim. Chapter members have also worked for the local REACH crisis hotline, which serves a community shelter for women who have been abused. Volunteers carry a beeper at night, talk to individuals in distress, and, when needed, pick up callers and transport them to safety.
Psychology students tend to be people-oriented and to have a need to serve. Our chapter has tried hard to provide a range of opportunities for members to meet that need.