Students from a small liberal arts college in Allegany County will be spending more time in service to Buffalo.
Houghton College President Shirley A. Mullen was on the city's West Side on Wednesday to announce two new service programs:
Wesley ServiceCorps will annually recruit about a dozen Houghton students to spend a year after graduation serving in community-based and anti-poverty initiatives in Buffalo. The program -- named after John Wesley, the English theologian who gave birth to the Wesleyan Church, Houghton's sponsoring denomination -- begins in September.
City Semester will give about a dozen Houghton juniors and seniors the opportunity to spend a semester in Buffalo, where they can learn and serve in an urban setting. That begins in 2011.
The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation has pledged $106,000 toward the two programs.
Houghton is stressing the importance of service as students head out into their careers, Mullen said Wednesday at Jericho Road Ministries on Barton Street.
"It is a great privilege for Houghton College to be involved in this great city," Mullen said. "Our involvement in Buffalo is a very deliberate part of preparing our students to be involved in the very complex world of the 21st century."
Founded in 1883 as a seminary, Houghton College is a four-year Christian liberal arts school that enrolls nearly 1,200 students, most on its main campus in the hamlet of Houghton, about 65 miles southeast of Buffalo.
But Houghton has long been involved in the local community with Western New York AmeriCorps. Nearly 170 Houghton students over the years have worked as AmeriCorps volunteers, many assisting in Buffalo's refugee community.
While Houghton will still work with AmeriCorps, the college is trying to take its outreach into Buffalo to the next level, said Mullen and Mark P. Lazzara, CEO of Western New York AmeriCorps. Houghton will be actively recruiting for the programs, while those serving in Wesley ServiceCorps will be working together as a team rather than being placed individually where needed.
Lazzara is excited about the new opportunities. Houghton students and graduates have proven to be some of AmeriCorps most dedicated volunteers, he said.
"If every college and university would do this, my life would be much simpler," Lazzara said.