WPI Gains New Student Volunteer Organizer

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - Lindsay Freed has been named Worcester Polytechnic Institute's first-ever MACC VISTA. That might sound like a new entrée from McDonald's, but it's actually an acronym for "Massachusetts Campus Compact Volunteer in Service to America."

The 22-year-old native of Portland, Oregon, a 1999 graduate of College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, will encourage campus volunteerism at WPI throughout the coming year.

"A MACC volunteer is committed to community service," Freed explained. "Through this AmeriCorps program, part of the Corporation for National Service, colleges make a commitment to be involved in community-service learning, which is becoming an important part of the curriculum in many schools."

Freed is part of a select group. Only 20 MACC VISTAs exist in Massachusetts. About half of the states in the country take part in the program.

Each MACC VISTA works to mobilize student volunteers. The idea sprang from the federal work-study program, which provides campus jobs that contribute to financial-aid packages. Federal law now prescribes that 7 percent of federal work-study money must go toward community-service efforts. The program promotes volunteer opportunities. Freed, who will work with Director of Orientation and Student Activities Gregory Snoddy and his staff, said incoming freshmen are encouraged to get involved.

"A survey has gone out to the freshmen offering them the option to do tutoring, mentoring or other community-service work instead of a work-study campus job," Freed said.

"It's kind of exciting because we got a lot of enthusiastic response from the freshman class."

Extended orientation programs - made possible through a new grant - aim to enhance the freshman experience at WPI. Projects, meetings, social events - and community-service activities - are part of that program.

Freed first became interested in the job last year after meeting a MACC VISTA at Holy Cross. In addition, she has quite a list of community service to her credit, including at Habitat for Humanity, where earlier this year she led efforts to organize 100 student volunteers during spring break. She also has supervised and worked with a group of students who built and remodeled houses for families in need in Miami, Fla., has directed a community clean-up project, has helped improve a local park and has tutored students at Sullivan Middle School in Worcester.

The daughter of Randy and Marsha Freed of Portland, Oregon, she matches her volunteer efforts with a high level of leadership ability. She has chaired a student leadership conference, a volunteer student group and Holy Cross Family Weekend, an annual event for parents and students. She also has served as head leader at new student orientation and has served as president of the Delilahs, an all-female a cappella group. In addition, she has worked as a research assistant in psychology.

When praised for her social commitment, Freed shrugged. "You go out there to help people and they end up helping you just as much," she said. "As college students, we get so involved in academics that we think that's the most important thing - and then you find out that there are lots of people who don't have enough to eat."

Freed aims for a career in higher-education administration and will work on a master's degree next year. Meanwhile, supporting WPI community service appeals to her on many levels.

"Community service fits into my life because I enjoy doing service," she said, "and it's neat being able to help others learn how to get involved. If someone comes in and wants to help tutor young kids, for example, I can find a way for them to do that once or twice a week here in Worcester."A second MACC VISTA will work at Quinsigamond Community College, giving Worcester two of the 20 assigned in the state. Based at Tufts University, the program offers its members training sessions and more.

"If any of us have a community-service project, we can contact the other MACC VISTAs to ask if anyone else wants to get involved," Freed said.

In welcoming Freed to campus, WPI thus joins a statewide network of helping hands.