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By Kate Sine
ECHOSTARS is a minimum time AmeriCorps program that serves and helps the community in a variety of ways. The program consists of incoming freshmen who serve at least 300 hundred hours throughout the course of the year. Students acquire the hours by serving at non-profit organizations known as ‘service sites.’ Service sites where students serve include: the Allegany County Animal Shelter, the Salvation Army and Riverside YMCA in Cumberland, and after school programs like Read to Succeed. ECHOSTARS is one-of-a-kind program in Maryland.
Beth Bair, National Service Coordinator, has directed the ECHOSTARS program for the past four years. While in this position, she has implemented ‘The Force’ which is a group of 30 Frostburg sophomores, juniors and seniors who have continued helping people through the program by being leaders beyond their freshman year. These students have formed squads which are focused on objectives such as academic and social programs.
Part of their service includes mentoring the freshmen group by asking them to go to the gym or an event on campus. Others schedule academic things like study halls. Overall, Force supports the ECHOSTARS freshmen to better themselves.
‘The goal of this is to show others that they do not need a party to find friends. We can do things together to balance out the social life,” Bair says.
ECHOSTARS has not only affected the students in the program, but also the University. At a recent Open House, Bair noted how former ECHOSTARS members were now serving as Bobcat Ambassadors which give campus tours or active in Student Government Association.
“ECHOSTARS is a way of getting planted here at the University and they just grow. They really become invested in the University besides going to classes,” says Bair.
Sarah Havrilla, a freshman member of ECHOSTARS agrees with this statement. “You learn more about yourself. I’m learning what my weak and strong points are,” Havrilla says.
Along with the other ECHOSTAR students here at Frostburg State, Havrilla balances 300 hours of work with classes. She joins other students to give a helping hand at the work sites. It is a humbling experience to see the pay off. (‘pay off’ just isn’t the right word or connotation…)
ECHOSTARS is not just giving back to the community or making strong bonds with others, it also makes stronger characters in the process.
FSU is committed to making all of its programs, services and activities accessible to persons with disabilities. To request accommodations through the ADA Compliance Office, call 301-687-4102 or use a Voice Relay Operator at 1-800-735-2258.
For further information on this release, contact:
Student and Community Involvement
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303
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