Citizenship Project Celebration Highlights Importance of Service
By Gretchen Lembcke-Pena, Editor-in-Chief
On Feb. 3, the Social Impact Lab hosted its Citizenship Celebration to commemorate the contribution of students who participated in Block A’s citizenship project courses and to select winners for both impact and creativity.
Although the event began at 9 a.m., Christine’s Park was filled with students much earlier, eager to display and discuss their projects.
The Citizenship Project, launched in January 2012, has been led by Dr. Anna Krift since its inception. Dr. Krift, Dr. Antonella Regueiro, Dr. Gary Villa, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and current Vice President of Academic Affairs and former dean of the college, Dr. Katrina Carter-Tellison, have all helped bring this project to life over the years.
“It has been an honor to be a part of the Citizenship Project,” said Krift. “I’ve really enjoyed connecting our faculty and first- year students with community partner organizations in South Florida over the past 12 years.”
Dean Gary Villa, who has been present since the project’s beginnings, spoke of his journey during the starting developments of the Citizenship Project program. Starting as a professor, he taught a section of the program touching on citizen science and bird conservation. When asked about what challenges their team faced, Villa touched on the team’s resilience.
“Because of the amazing work of Dr. Krift and her team, my challenges as supervisor have mostly been small and easy to manage,” said Villa. “The biggest one for me is to make sure they have what they need and when they need it.”
The Citizenship Project has come a long way, from removing trash from mangroves to serving meals to those in need, students have done an excellent service to the Boca Raton community. The event is hosted by Lynn’s Social Impact Lab, which is responsible for bringing attention to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, which aid in the betterment of society.
Regueiro has been a major player in Lynn’s Comfort Cases partnership, a citizenship project dedicated to packing backpacks with books, stuffed animals, and a note from students for children in the U.S. foster
system. Over the years, Lynn students have packed a total of 4,400 cases for these children in need. When asked about lessons from her time as director of the Social Impact Lab that she has implemented
into the collaboration with Comfort Cases, Regueiro learned that no amount of planning will ever make a project perfect.
“It is important for us to engage with the process more than with the final outcome since the latter will always change,” said Regueiro. “The ability to stay flexible is essential to reducing anxiety and stress in these projects.”
Some of the many citizenship projects that were done this year were Special Spaces Room Makeover by Adam Simpson, Beach Clean-Up for Gumbo Limbo by Begum Kaplan and Big Dog Ranch Rescue Service by Dave Baer. All projects represent an SDG, such as good health and wellbeing, clean water and sanitation or life on land.
Krift commented on what she hoped is the takeaway from this annual event.
“After finishing the Citizenship Project, Lynn students can continue to serve in the community,” she said. “Most of the organizations we partner with seek volunteers and would welcome their continued commitment.”
The event concluded with Dr. Cindy Khan- Jordan and her students winning first place for civic engagement. As for creativity, the award went to Dr. Rachel Pauletti and her class. The Citizenship Project initiative is one of the
strongest assets to make connections, create change and inspire students to create that change in local and global communities.