RENCI at ECU Participates in Project HEART Community Engagement Training

Donna Kain teaches HEART volunteers.

Greenville, NC
December 04, 2008

By Donna Kain

Donna Kain at HEART Community Engagement Training.

On November 14, more than 100 AmeriCorps participants met at ECU's Mendenhall Student Center for a day of training about community engagement. The participants were high school students who tutor and mentor at-risk students grades 3–12 and also complete at least three service projects to meet various needs in their communities. During the day, the AmeriCorps students participated in breakout sessions about community issues including homelessness and hunger, literacy, conservation, and disaster relief. They also attended a lunch at which the keynote speakers included Congressman Walter B. Jones and Provost Marilyn Sheerer. Members of the NC Commission on Volunteerism also attended the event that was organized by Kenneth Taylor of ECU's College of Education Project HEART (High Expectations for At Risk Teens).

At one of the breakout sessions, Donna Kain, RENCI at ECU's director of communications and outreach, discussed disaster relief and preparedness with 30 high school seniors from Craven and Jones Counties. Kain talked with students about what constitutes disasters, crises, and emergencies and—in general terms—the ways that emergency management teams approach them. She stressed planning, preparation, and communication as important aspects of the ways communities cope with disasters. The group also considered useful engagement projects that would involve students in developing information (posters, papers, brochures, or websites) about disasters and preparedness, investigating various volunteer relief organizations and ways they help people, and learning about the disaster plans in their schools or local communities. One important way that high school students can help is to educate people about developing personal emergency plans and putting together emergency kits.

East Carolina's Project HEART (High Expectations for At Risk Teens), is a regional partnership between ECU, AmeriCorps, the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, community colleges, private colleges, Boys & Girls Clubs, and other community organizations in eastern North Carolina. Visit the Project HEART website:

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