Community Engagement News

Community Engagement

Nov 22, 2021. 5 min read

Community Engagement Community Engagement News November 22, 2021

“Some Wonderful Partnerships” Embody Barry’s Commitment to Social Justice, Collaborative Service

President Allen emphasizes that Barry is a special place

Barry University President, Dr. Mike Allen, participates in a panel discussion

Barry University President, Dr. Mike Allen, participates in a panel discussion, an Alumni Homecoming Weekend event. Pictured with the president are Dr. Glenn Bowen of the CCSI; Robbie Bell, an alumna; and VP Bernadine Douglas.

From a day of service to homecoming events, the celebration of Barry’s history, traditions, and core commitments has shown that this university is a special place.

President Mike Allen drew attention to just how special Barry is. He deemed it “very special” that almost 200 students got up early on a Saturday morning (Nov. 6) to take part in collaborative service activities in the community. And he called Founders’ Week “a wonderful week [when] so many special things happened.”

As he reflected on Founders’ Week, which culminated with Alumni Homecoming Weekend, Dr. Allen pointed to “some wonderful partnerships” that embody Barry’s commitment to social justice and collaborative service. He said the partnerships put Barry’s commitments to “real work.”

President Allen singled out the university’s partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami, the United Way of Miami, Casa Familia, and the Miami Center for Racial Justice as exemplars.

Dr. Allen was the lead panelist for “Reflections & Reconnections” on November 13. The hour-long panel discussion of “the exciting things we’ve got going on at Barry University” took place in the Fine Arts Quadrangle on campus and was broadcast on Facebook Live.

President Allen referred to Barry as “a place where the advocacy [and] the fight for social justice through collaborative service is … prevalent today.”

After noting the success of Founders’ Day of Service, the kickoff event for Founders’ Week, the university president highlighted a food-packing event that took place two days later.

Students and other volunteers packed 40,000 meals for families in Haiti, “a country that has obviously had more than their fair share of difficulties,” Dr. Allen said. He expressed the hope that the donation would make even a small difference in the lives of the Haitian people.

Dr. Tony Umadhay, Dr. Paula Dias, Janeisha Cambridge, Dr. Glenn Bowen, Robbie Bell, Dr. Mike Allen, and Bernadine Douglas pose for a photo after participating in the “Reflections & Reconnections” event.

Dr. Glenn Bowen, executive director of the Center for Community Service Initiatives (CCSI), explained Barry’s “mutifaceted approach to service.” He gave several examples of students’ direct and indirect service to the community throughout the pandemic and noted how students and faculty alike had leveraged the power of technology effectively to pivot “from high-touch to high-tech engagement.”

Bernadine Douglas, vice president for institutional advancement, introduced the panelists and moderated the discussion.

The other panelists were Dr. Tony Umadhay, associate professor of anesthesiology and associate dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences; Dr. Paula Dias, director of mission, leadership, and inclusion; Janeisha Cambridge, a Barry senior; and Robbie Bell, a Barry alumna.

Dr. John Murray, provost, and Dr. Jill Farrell, dean of the School of Education, were in attendance. Also present at the event were Pietro Bonacossa, associate vice president for development, and Monique Armbrister, director of alumni relations.

Public Relations Course is Latest to Get the Service-Learning Designation

Courses that meet specific criteria are labeled “SL” in the course schedule and are identified as such in the university catalogs. Dr. Mariely Valentin-Llopis submitted the successful application for the service-learning designation.

Principles of Public Relations, a 300-level course in the Department of Communication, has been approved for the service-learning designation.

COM 390 is designed in part “to engage students in service-learning as a tool for real-life experience in the public relations profession,” says Dr. Mariely Valentin-Llopis, assistant professor of public relations.

After completing the course, she explains, “the student will be able to develop a public relations campaign in partnership with a community organization,” applying “theoretically sound strategies and tactics” to the campaign.

The CCSI is inviting faculty members whose courses include a service-learning component to apply for the SL designation. Sections of courses, internships, practicum assignments, field education, capstones, community-based research, and similar community-focused or community-based work may be designated as service-learning.

Courses that meet the seven criteria for the designation are labeled “SL” in the course schedule and are identified as such in the university catalogs.

Additional information on the service-learning designation is available from the CCSI.

In Only 4 Hours, Volunteers Pack 40,000 Meals Destined Mostly for Haiti

Barry students, staff, faculty, and community members packed 40,000 meals in just 4 hours during Founders’ Week.

Most of the meals were destined for Haiti. Some would go to South Florida neighborhoods experiencing food insecurity.

Campus Ministry and Intercollegiate Athletics managed the meal-packing project in partnership with Cross Catholic Outreach.

More than 350 volunteers did their part in the main campus gymnasium on November 8. They prepared packages of rice, beans, vegetables, vitamin packs, and other items.

Amanda Gonzalez Garcia is Contributing to Community Impact in a Special Way

She has been writing feature stories spotlighting students’ contributions to community impact. Now, it’s her turn to be featured, her time to get her contributions spotlighted.

Like many of her college-mates, Amanda Gonzalez Garcia has been contributing to community impact through the Barry Service Corps. Unlike them, she has been contributing in part by providing excellent examples of the difference her peers are making in the community.

Amanda’s feature stories have been appearing in this newsletter. She hopes what she writes is compelling enough to encourage other students to become civic minded and committed to service in the community.

For example, Amanda has written about how Samuel Vilmeau is doing his part to address food insecurity, and how Christa Jeanty has brought joy to the elderly served by Easterseals South Florida. She has also highlighted Samantha Calixte’s civic engagement through Amor en Acción, the faith-based nonprofit that assists underserved countries like Haiti with disaster relief and social assistance.

Amanda has been a Barry Service Corps member since 2019. She participates in this civic engagement program through Federal Work-Study Community Service and has been assigned to the Center for Community Services Initiatives (CCSI) as a program assistant or “capacity builder.”

Her regular service includes helping to publicize events such as days of service and deliberative dialogue forums, assisting with event setup and check-in, and filing student timesheets.

Barry Service Corps member Amanda Gonzalez Garcia has been writing feature stories for Community Engagement News, spotlighting students’ contributions to community impact.

In addition, Amanda has served directly in the community, most recently as a volunteer for a community service project at the Feeding South Florida warehouse in Pembroke Park. She was part of a 34-member group from Barry who assisted with inspecting, sorting, and packing 20,000 pounds of food items for people in need.

Her strong interest in helping to alleviate food insecurity and advocate effective anti-hunger policies led to Amanda’s selection as a panelist for the White House Conversation with Bread for the World on October 21. Josh Dickson, senior advisor for the Office of Public Engagement at the White House, participated in the conversation.

“I was happy for the opportunity to share my knowledge about food insecurity and the efforts being made at Barry to address it,” Amanda said.

Born near Havana, Cuba, Amanda immigrated to Miami at age 8. She is a first-generation college student now in her fourth year at Barry, where she is a double major in criminology and biomedical and forensic photography.

This student leader currently serves on three executive boards, including as president of Ignite, the sociology and criminology club.

Both Brittney Morales, the Federal Work-Study Community Service program facilitator, and Liz James, experiential learning coordinator, have praised Amanda Gonzalez Garcia for her “joyful and encouraging disposition,” positive attitude, and outstanding contributions as a Barry Service Corps member.

A Service Corps Newcomer Reflects on His First Day of Service Experience at Barry

Coming from a small rural town in Virginia, I always sought the opportunity to live and learn in a culturally rich city, a place where I could learn more about the experience and perspective of others who may be different from me. Upon the completion of my bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia, I chose to relocate to Miami to pursue a doctorate in podiatric medicine at Barry University. 

Service has always been at the center of my undergraduate experiences and career aspirations. To me, my future career as a physician is more than just “helping people”; it is a career of service—service to those who are most in need. 

Throughout my four years as an undergraduate at UVA, I had the opportunity to participate in community service locally, in Charlottesville, and abroad, in Latin America. 

After building a mentorship program for underrepresented students, participating in community service projects, and serving as an advisor for students, I became attuned to the inequities faced by disadvantaged populations and the impact community service initiatives can have.  

To continue my commitment to civic engagement and to learn more about the community I would be living in for the next four years, I decided to join the Barry Service Corps. The BSC is a civic engagement program of the Center for Community Service Initiatives. 

Recently, I was able to experience my first day of service at Barry. It was the third annual Founders’ Day of Service, and projects were designed to emphasize place-based community engagement. The day provided a terrific opportunity for me to learn about some of the campus–community partnerships the university has established and to see how the commitment to collaborative service is translated into action.

At Stanton Memorial Baptist Church, I observed a group of students repainting the exterior walls of adjacent buildings. This reminded me of the infrastructure project in rural Panama that I participated in as an undergraduate. In that project, we built latrines from the ground up and painted the exterior to match the owner’s house. 

Service projects at Stanton Memorial Baptist Church and Hubert O. Sibley K-8 Academy.

At Hubert O. Sibley K-8 Academy, Barry students and staff worked together to improve the physical appearance of the school. They beautified the school grounds, painted sections of the school building, and added positive messages inside a restroom. In addition, they created a butterfly garden.

When I asked students to talk about their experiences that day, they described service through a general theme of giving back to the community, helping people other than themselves, and having fun while doing it. They were both excited to be there and informed about the significance of service.

As a first-year podiatric medicine student, I look forward to making service to the community an important part of my experience here at Barry over the next three-and-a-half years. I hope to leave an impact on the community, especially for people who need assistance the most.

Barry–Big Brothers Big Sisters Partnership Progressing, Steering Committee Reports

Dr. Roxanne Davies, associate vice president for mission engagement (left), is mentor to Cai Liz, a BBBS Miami Little from Cutler Bay High School (second from left). Joining them on Founders’ Day of Service (Nov. 6) were Marianne Weiss, vice president of continuing education at BBBS Miami, and her Little, Ashley Ortega. They worked in the Barry Urban Garden.

Barry’s partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami (BBBS Miami) is progressing, a report from the Steering Committee says.

Dr. Roxanne Davies, the committee chair, noted that Littles of high-school age have started coming to campus as part of the BBBS Miami School to Work Program. On campus, the Littles hear and watch presentations and visit offices. They also spend time with their mentors, aka Bigs.

Coordinated by Barry’s Admissions team, the campus visits allow the Littles to learn about campus programs, resources, and opportunities for engagement, Dr. Davies said. They also get a sense of a possible college and career path for themselves.

Faculty and staff members interested in becoming Bigs and helping to make the Littles’ campus visits memorable are asked to email

Community Gathering Explores Miami-Dade County’s Lynching History

Courtney Berrien, associate director at Barry University’s Center for Community Service Initiatives, says the event is one of the first steps in healing wounds left untreated for nearly a century.

The Miami-Dade Truth, Education, and Reconciliation Initiative (TEAR) has shed light on the documented lynching of three Black men approximately 100 years ago and is guiding “a truth-telling process” aimed at racial healing.

Earlier this month, the TEAR Steering Committee hosted a discussion at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in West Perrine, where Courtney Berrien, a co-chair, and other committee leaders recounted how J. B. Harris, William Simmons, and Roy Gaines were lynched.

Berrien said the cycle of racial inequity has been perpetuated by the delay in confronting the ills of American history. To end the cycle, she said, Miami needs “a truth-telling process to take place that involves accountability, responsibility, and acknowledgment on the part of the power structure or regime that’s in place.”

She added, “It’s also important that those new truths that are brought to light are made a part of the historical record.”

Berrien is the associate director of Barry’s Center for Community Service Initiatives and also co-chair of the university’s Anti-racism and Equity Coalition.

She told the gathering of about 50 people that the event was one of the first steps toward healing the wounds left untreated for nearly a century.

TEAR is advancing plans to have markers placed at the lynching spots in the Homestead area to memorialize the three men. The organizers are inspired by the work of the Montgomery, Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative led by Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer and social justice activist.

Other Miami-Dade TEAR Steering Committee leaders who participated in the event on November 13 included Dr. Marvin Dunn (Miami Center for Racial Justice), Roni Bennett (South Florida People of Color), Dinizulu Gene Tinnie, and Guy Forchion (Virginia Key Beach Park Trust).

Engaged Scholarship is One of Seven Categories of Awards for Community Engagement

Community Engagement Awards: Submit a Nomination

Engaged Scholarship is one of seven categories of community engagement awards for which nominations are being accepted.

The Engaged Scholarship Award recognizes faculty members for significant scholarly work across the faculty roles of teaching, research, and service—including related publications and presentations—that addresses community issues.

Students, faculty and staff members, and community partners are invited to submit nominations by the last Friday of January.

The 2021 winner of the Community-Engaged Scholarship Award was Dr. Mureen Shaw, then an assistant professor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Previous winners were Dr. Adam Dean (Communication) in 2017; Dr. Pamela Hall (Psychology) in 2016; Dr. Laura Finley (Sociology and Criminology) and Dr. Tisa McGhee (Social Work) in 2015.

The CCSI will host Barry’s Ninth Annual Community Engagement Awards Ceremony on March 30.

Nominations will be accepted also in six other categories: Community Impact, Community Partnerships, Community-Based Research, Community Engagement Educator, Service-Learning Faculty, and Engaged Department. Additional information and the nomination forms are available from the CCSI at

Community Engagement News

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT SYMPOSIUM: The CCSI has called for concurrent session presentation proposals for the Eighth Annual Community Engagement Symposium.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AWARDS: Community Engagement Educator is one of the seven categories of community engagement awards for which the CCSI has called for nominations.

WORKSHOP FOR COMMUNITY PARTNERS: Community–Academic Partnerships Workshop attendees learned about logical models from a social work faculty member.

Happy Thanksgiving

Community Engagement News is a publication of the Center for Community Service Initiatives.

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