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Leading NYC in Service

5/7/2021

Mount top-ranked for volunteerism

We’re proud to share that the College of Mount Saint Vincent’s student volunteers—known on campus as Leaders in Service—have been recognized by the NYC Volunteers Count. Of the participating colleges and universities throughout New York City, the College ranked third for most volunteers throughout each and every borough.

Compared to colleges and universities with enrollments far beyond the Mount’s, our students continually take the lead in volunteer hours, responding to the needs of the disenfranchised and most vulnerable—the disabled, homeless, elderly, working poor, and youth. And they’re not only focused on helping just in Riverdale, NYC, or the tri-state—Mount students commit to those in need throughout the country and across the world.

“The work of our students is truly inspiring,” said Matthew Shields, Director for Mission and Ministry. “Each year, our office welcomes hundreds of eager students with a sincere desire to assist others in need. For Mount Saint Vincent to have so many students engaged in giving back speaks volumes to the type of person who attends and is attracted to our campus. This accomplishment is possible because of the tremendous support of the Sisters of Charity and the administration of the College, who put a priority on the obligation we all have to help lift up the vulnerable in our midst.”

It’s easy to see how year after year the Mount continues to garner top rankings. But to the College’s Leaders in Service, it’s not about the recognition. It’s about the commitment to helping others. The commitment to making a difference. And the commitment to serving, no matter how small or how far.

At the Mount, service is a way of life. Meet a couple of our Leaders in Service and see why NYC’s Volunteers Count never counts us out.

Olivia Hilliard ’21

Olivia HilliardOver the last four years, Olivia has committed herself to helping others. Now, she’s ready to put her passion in action: She’s set to graduate and launch her career as a caring, compassionate leader in health care as a nurse.

“I have been volunteering since I was six,” said Olivia. “It started as a small hobby, but it branched off into something more. I have always had a caring spirit. I see the everyday struggles in and out of my community and I feel like I have so much to offer.”

And she does.

Olivia has dedicated herself to serve with various organizations. She’s led trips to the Hebrew Home at Riverdale by RiverSpring Living, encouraging Mount students to spend quality time with residents who sometimes don’t have visitors, while also organizing dance therapy and bingo events. She’s prepared meals, gathered supplies, and attended many distributions for the Midnight Run, bringing community and justice to the streets of New York City. She’s cared for the homeless and advocated for policies to prevent and end homelessness with Susan’s Place/Jerome Avenue Care for the Homeless HDFC. And she’s assisted with Dance for PD, offering specialized dance classes to people with Parkinson’s, their families, friends, and care partners, empowering participants to explore movement and music in ways that are refreshing, enjoyable, stimulating, and creative.

“I believe it’s important for Mount students to engage in service leadership because it changes your perspective of the world we live in,” she continued. “It’s also a great way to not only help others, but it helps you discover your purpose in life. Volunteering has played a large part in my passion for nursing.”

During her time at the Mount, Olivia even traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana for a week-long stay at the House of Charity, a sponsored work of the Sisters of Charity Federation inviting volunteers together to rebuild homes still damaged from Hurricane Katrina in the Lower Ninth Ward. During the COVID-19 crisis, she also began working with the Afya Foundation, which provides an environmentally-sensitive, community-oriented solution to help address the critical shortage of medical supplies in underserved communities. The foundation has several warehouses—including one in Yonkers—where volunteers help sort and lot medical supplies and PPE to send around the country and across the world.

Anthony Guzman ’23

Anthony GuzmanAn English and Spanish double major with a minor in education studies, Anthony is finishing up his sophomore year, with plans to also graduate with a dual certification in ESL and childhood education.

“I serve not only because the world is in need of dire love, but because I realized a long time ago that in serving others, I become a better version of myself,” said Anthony. “I have learned that the world does not revolve around me. It brings me joy when I can make someone realize that they are loved just for being themselves, and I think that is the greatest thing you can do for someone today—to make them realize they are loved just as they are.”

Like Olivia, Anthony’s dedication to the Leaders in Service initiative runs deep. In addition to his role as vice president of the College’s chapter of Best Buddies—an organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)—Anthony has been involved with The Bowery Mission, a faith-based program that offers compassionate care such as food, shelter, clothing, showers, and chapel services for homeless and hungry men, women, and children; POTS (Part of the Solution), an esteemed Bronx institution where each client continues to be seen as a valued member of a loving community, deserving not only healthy food, but also the support needed to move from crisis to stability and ultimately self-sufficiency; Project Light, providing adult education ESL classes to help immigrants and those with limited English proficiency learn competency-based English; Grand Central Outreach, led by Mount alumnus Jonathan Ramirez ’18, who worked tirelessly to tackle the homeless epidemic in New York City by gathering groups of Mount students to assemble lunches to distribute to the homeless in Grand Central Station, while also spending time and sharing conversations with those in need—an initiative that’s still going strong, even with COVID-19 limitations; RiverSpring Living, inviting him to distribute Holy Communion and visit the sick at the Hebrew Home; and the Midnight Run.

Recently, Anthony began volunteering as a mentor with BronxConnect—a faith and community-based program that offers alternative-justice, cure violence, and re-entry programs to connect court-involved and high-risk youth and young adults with positive local community resources: to prevent recidivism and address youth-initiated goals in education and employment—and he’s also joined Olivia at the Afya Foundation.

“It is so important for Mount students to engage in service leadership,” he continued. “As students, we are not only here to learn from our classes. If our knowledge only stays in our heads, then we have not done enough with our education. It is much bigger than that. We are here to learn, of course, but we need to also let it sink into hearts, then into our hands to allow us to go and change the world. That is the purpose of our education: to change the world.”

Anthony—and Olivia—are not alone. Our Leaders in Service are changing the world—and we’re proud to be recognized with one of the highest number of volunteers in the City.

Learn more about our Leaders in Service

About the NYC Volunteers Count
NYC Service releases its annual Volunteers Count report each April detailing the accomplishments of New York City’s volunteers during the previous calendar year, but like many organizations across New York, they were unable to host their annual Mayoral Service Recognition event last spring. However, they recently released their 2019 Volunteers Count report, highlighting the significant work of volunteer networks in nonprofits, city agencies, colleges and universities, faith-based groups, and hospitals from January 1 to December 31, 2019, ending just before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2019 NYC Volunteer Count report identified 662,000 volunteers who served at more than 500 agencies and organizations, ranging from small grassroots neighborhood groups to large institutions. With another roughly 360,000 young people engaged in service in New York City public schools, NYC Service’s count tallies more than a million volunteers who engaged in service to make the City a better place. In 2019, prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Mount Saint Vincent Leaders in Service volunteered 12,200 hours in 557 unique opportunities.

About the College of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the College of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of professional accomplishment, service, and leadership in the 21st century.