HFCC administration compliments faculty on community service

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — For the last two years, all full-time faculty at Henry Ford Community College have committed their free time to help local charities by volunteering their time.

At the HFCC Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 21, college faculty and support staff were recognized and commended for their community service work in and around Dearborn during the 2012-13 academic year.

HFCC Vice President of Administrative Services Cynthia Eschenburg said faculty donated over 3,400 hours of their time to over 130 organizations, including the Dearborn Animal Shelter, Gleaners Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity during the last school year.

Eschenburg added that as part of the Local 1650 union contract between the faculty and the college, all full-time faculty are required to volunteer a minimum of 20 hours per year to a nonsectarian, non-artisan or nonprofit community service organization.

She said the collective bargaining agreement between the college and the Support Staff Association also contains provisions for community service, though the total numbers for their work have not been tabulated yet.

“Last year was the first full year of the agreement, and to have this many hours and faculty volunteering with over 130 organizations is exciting,” Eschenburg said.

Local 1650 President John McDonald said faculty members focus their attention on Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Detroit, Taylor and Allen Park. These are areas not only close to the college, but are five major feeders communities from which the college draws its students.

McDonald also said that adding the community service clauses into the contract helps the college build a better relationship with community members who do not spend time on campus and allows the college to give something back to Dearborn.

“Our motivation in adding the community service language to the contract was to acknowledge the unwavering support of the community of Dearborn for HFCC since the college was founded in 1938,” McDonald said. “The community founded the college during the great depression and has never turned its back on the college in all these years.”

Members of the faculty and support staff spoke to the board about their experiences, including HFCC Science Instructor and Biotechnology Program Director Jolie Stepaniak and English Instructor Scott Still.

Stepaniak split her volunteering time between the Dearborn Animal Shelter, Gleaners Food Bank and participating as a judge in the science fair at the Dearborn Center for Math, Science and Technology earlier this year.

“All of these were incredibly worthwhile experiences and it really emphasizes the additional ways that we at HFCC can support the community,” Stepaniak said.

Still said he volunteered with Habitat for Humanity on sites in both Detroit and Dearborn. He said he was able to take about 12 other faculty and their family members, representing seven different areas of study at the college, to help work on the new houses being constructed in Dearborn between May and August.

“We were able to put in 165 hours of volunteer labor to the Habitat site on Neckel in east Dearborn,” Still said. “We went out and did our best and I think we did some good work.”

Habitat is building 12 houses in Dearborn on land provided by the city. Six are on Neckel and the other six are on Hartwell. Construction on the Neckel houses began in April.

Board of Trustees President Pam Adams said she was impressed with the variety of volunteering locations chosen by faculty and the depth that they were involved with the different organizations.

HFCC President Stan Jensen said the college needed to give back to worthy projects in the community.

“We are very serious here about serving our students and our community,” Jensen said.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)