Author: Shawn Gillis
Categories: Campus Life|Community|Impact|Spiritual Life

Houghton College, Alfred State College, and Alfred University will be brought together under the direction of Leadership Allegany to participate in Make a Difference Day, the largest national community service day in America.  The colleges will organize hundreds of students to impact Allegany County on Saturday, October 27.

The purpose of this initiative is for students from the three colleges to engage in meaningful, high-impact service projects within Allegany County and connect with neighbors, other students, and fellow community members while making a difference, along with building relationships with local and non-profit agencies.

Jonathan Hilsher, director if civic engagement at Alfred State College and a lead coordinator for the community service day on behalf of Leadership Allegany, is asking the communities and organizations of Allegany County to become involved by creating and arranging opportunities for the students to engage through service. 

“We have the students, now we need help identifying ways in which they will be most useful to the local communities,” says Hilsher.  “We are asking the local communities, churches, businesses and non-profits to contact us if they could use the man-power.  We are also welcoming other local schools and organizations to get onboard and help serve their local communities for the day.  This is not just about the three colleges and Leadership Allegany, but it is also about community members coming together to serve each other.”

To date, ACCORD Corporation, the American Red Cross and the United Way have signed on to take advantage of the free help on October 27.  These three organizations will be coordinating projects for approximately 100 students to volunteer their time towards.

For organizations to take advantage of the available help or for organizations, schools and community members to join in the effort through service, contact Jonathan Hilsher at or call, 607-587-4077.

All three higher education institutions in Allegany County: Houghton College, Alfred State, and Alfred University have never participated in a joint venture of this nature before.  The college students and volunteers will engage the surrounding communities to serve and make a difference in people’s lives.  Types of projects will include:

  • ·         Community Beautification – Assisting local communities and municipalities with the cleanup and beautification of their streets, parks, and public spaces.
  • ·         Assisting Organizations, Non-Profits and Churches – We will engage with local community organizations and churches to assist them with needs that help their local community. Some of these needs might look like: Painting, cleaning, serving the community through food pantries and soup kitchens, etc…
  • ·         Individual Service Projects – These will be varied depending upon individual needs but might look like: assisting senior citizens, disabled individuals or simply those with needs in their homes such as moving furniture, painting, general yard care and simple home maintenance, etc..

   Transportation is the biggest obstacle for the colleges to overcome.  Moving 800 students throughout Allegany County in order to serve the needs of the communities is no easy task.  The three schools have limited busses available. Helping to fill this need, ACCESS Allegany has joined the initiative with two busses to run non-stop throughout the day, transporting students to project locations. Additional transportation for about 300 students is still in need of being arranged.

Leadership Allegany is a joint initiative of Houghton College and the Greater Allegany County Chamber of Commerce. The program provides a dynamic learning environment where adult professionals who live, work, or have vested interest in Allegany County grow their leadership abilities, create connections, and impact their communities.

“We are all excited to see the impact we are making on a county-wide level,” said Pam Witter, Chairperson of Leadership Allegany.  “As part of a community service component of Leadership Allegany, they have brought the three schools together for National Make a Difference Day.  This will be by far their largest project to date.”

Make a difference Day, the largest national day of community service, has been impacting lives for more than 20 years.  Millions of people around the world unite to volunteer their time and energy for those around them.   USA Weekend magazine and Points of Light, sponsors of Make a Difference Day, say “that regardless of age, location, or resources, we can accomplish amazing things when we take on the problems we see in our community.”