Administration brings life back into Community Service office

Diane Hotaling’s legacy of helping community members in need lives on through the newly named Wesleyan Engage: Center for Civic Leadership and Service Learning. The staff has new community service projects and pending partnerships in store for the 2017-2018 school year.

Diane Hotaling, or Ms. Diane, had a lasting presence on the students at Virginia Wesleyan. She was a dedicated worker as director of the community service office for 32 years, and translated this work ethic to the current student-run office. The current students speak very highly of her and her loyalty.

“I was really sad when she retired because she’s been here for so long. I know she was offered a better opportunity so that was great for her,” said BreeAna Coleman, member of the community service staff.

Ms. Diane is admired by many, so it is no surprise that Wesleyan Engage: Center for Civic Leadership and Service Learning intends on keeping her programs intact.

“Yeah we’re going to continue her legacy. Before Diane left she made connections with coordinators. She made sure we still had Marlins Count,” said Claude Clarke, an avid community service worker. To further this statement, Coleman continued, “She put in place the Marlins Read and Marlins Count programs which are really good because those are our most popular programs when it comes to the VWC community. We just continued contacting all the people from the school from before. I also believe that Cooking for Kids will continue, and Neighborhood Tutoring.”

Cooking for Kids is a program that will start back up again. It occurs monthly and consists of cooking food in bulk to send out to cafeterias that have kids in need. “During the first session we had this month in September we cooked almost 400 pounds of ground hamburger meat. The food bank drops it off on Tuesday, we cook it and package it on Wednesday, and the Food Bank comes back and receives the food again on Thursday,” Clarke said. The taco meat that they made was sent to 13 cafeterias and helped feed nearly 800 kids.

Along with picking back up the programs from last year, the community service office is looking to broaden its horizons and begin new programs and partnerships. “We are not only looking to continue the stuff that she put into place but also continue doing the stuff that she may have thought we couldn’t continue to do,” Clarke said.

The community service office is intending to expand on the regions they help. “We’re talking about making apprenticeships with Norfolk public schools because we only do Virginia Beach Public Schools,” Clarke said. He further elaborated, “It’s more of a catered need because a lot of different families from lower socioeconomic backgrounds live in Norfolk. We want to help those who need the most help.”

Keith Moore, vice president for student affairs, and Gwendolynn Malone, community service office manager, have been in touch with Norfolk schools about a new mentoring program. This is an opportunity for students to get involved and help children who need guidance. “I think they said they have 29 kids so far so hopefully we get 2 staff members and a big group of volunteers over there as soon as possible,” Clarke said.

The community service has picked up and ran what Ms. Diane put in place. Impressively, they have done so with no director. “It’s definitely student run. We contact the people we need to get in touch with for community service opportunities” said Coleman.

They still ensure that everything runs smoothly. “Gwendolynn Malone is the office manager, so she coordinates the schedules and makes sure who signs up and anything in that nature. We have five returners total, we’ve hired five or six new people as well,” Clarke said.

Along with a new structure of command, the community service office also underwent a name change. The new name is the “Center for Civic Leadership and Service Learning.” Although a long and wordy title, it still simply means the community service office: the place where a collective group of students are working to better the community.

Megan Sherman