Alyssa Henry, a junior Occupational Therapy and Community Youth Development double major at Nazareth College, embodies civic engagement through her consistent dedication to service in both her course work and in her co-curricular activities. Since she first arrived at Nazareth three years ago, Alyssa has been dedicated to the College's Partners for Serving (PFS) program as a member and as a site coordinator. PFS is a federal community service work study program that partners with area social service agencies in order to reduce the risk of re-occurring poverty by enhancing educational support, personal development, health care, and life skills. Among her many roles within PFS, Alyssa is the site coordinator for Genesis House, a local shelter for older youth affected by homelessness. She is also the Service Ambassador for Nazareth's Yoga Empowerment Partnership (YEP), a program she created when participating in the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) that uses yoga as a mental health wellness tool for college students. Alyssa approaches social inequalities using a unique youth centered approach and is consistently dedicated to creating positive change while empowering others to do so. Her commitment to building a better world is ongoing and exemplary.
Community engagement with a goal of systemic change is central to who I am. My focus is on building intentional relationships in order to better address social issues with a multidimensional understanding. By listening and learning from my neighbors' stories, I am able to authentically advocate within larger spheres of influence from the local stage, to national platforms like Clinton Global Initiative University, and National Yoga Service Conference. I believe all community work has to address indirect capacity building, direct service, and empowering others to serve. For me this means supporting capacity of Rochester area community organizations by facilitating self-care retreats for local area youth workers, and providing them with self-care strategies to prevent burnout. It means serving directly with area nonprofits by volunteering weekly at Genesis House, building relationships with youth experiencing homelessness. It also means developing and implementing a sustainable service program called Yoga Empowerment Partnership, which uses yoga as a mental health wellness tool for college students. In order to achieve sustainable change, we also need to educate, empower, and engage others through meaningful and reciprocal service partnerships, leveraging the skills and passions of all involved for positive, systemic change in our communities.