Ronald G. Cantor

Ronald G. Cantor

Southern Maine Community College students are giving back to the community in ways big and small.

During the Fall Semester, Samantha Dean and other students from our Midcoast Campus served lunch at the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program soup kitchen in Brunswick as part of their Introduction to Human Services class. The experience so impressed Samantha that now she regularly volunteers at the soup kitchen on her own time.

Community service is an important part of the college experience. At SMCC’s Midcoast and South Portland Campuses, students learn about the power of giving first-hand. They volunteer their time with organizations and community groups that are focused on hunger, education, health care, the environment, social justice, the elderly and other worthy and noble causes.

Through the years, our students have volunteered for organizations such as the American Red Cross of Maine; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine; Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Maine; Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine; Family Crisis Services; Food Corps; Friends of Casco Bay; Habitat for Humanity; Partners for World Health; Peace Corps/Americorps; Portland Housing Authority; Portland Mentoring Alliance; Preble Street Resource Center; Southern Maine Agency on Aging; and United Way.

Community service benefits those in need, the community and the school. Volunteering increases student development and motivation while giving students new perspectives and allowing them to apply academic learning to real human needs.

Helping at the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program has given Samantha a new perspective of what a soup kitchen is and who it serves.

It was nothing like the stereotypical image of slopping cafeteria-style food onto plates for people dressed in tatters, she says. Rather, she served wholesome food — whole grains, fruits and vegetables — to working-class poor, elderly on fixed incomes and people who simply were having a tough time making ends meet.

“I was overwhelmed and impressed by how much this program did to feed those who are in need and hungry,” says Samantha. “I felt like my soul opened up. It had such a great vibe that I felt a part of — rather than apart from — the people there.”

Samantha, who’s from Wiscasset, says her volunteer time is also putting a “new spin” on her education and what career direction she may choose. When she earns her degree, she wants to work for a nonprofit, possibly helping the hungry or the homeless.

Community service helps the people doing the giving as much as those who are in need, says Samantha.

“The best way to start feeling good about yourself,” she says, “is to do something good for somebody else.”


Ron Cantor is president of Southern Maine Community College.

Comments are not available on this story.