Cornell recognized students involved in community service in Tompkins County with the 2002 Robinson-Appel Humanitarian Award presented on April 12 to Cornell students Tamar Melen ’02, Joshua Walker grad and Joel Cadbury grad.
The awards are presented annually to honor and give support to students involved in a wide range of community service projects. The recipients are chosen by a selection committee consisting of the executive director of the Cornell Public Service Center (PSC), a student representative of the Community Partnership board, a program of the PSC, and an alumnae who is a past recipient of the award. In addition to being honored and recognized, the recipients received $1,500 to use towards their service projects.
Melen, a cancer survivor, was honored for her organization Student Survivors of Serious Illness (SSSI), which she founded in 2000 through the PSC. This organization offers support, information, advocacy, and activism to students who have encountered serious or chronic programs.
“Although I have continued to pursue my own avenues for dealing with the aftermath of my illness, which have involved both therapeutic and activism involvement, I wanted to establish a network here at Cornell University which will enable all student survivors of serious illness a visible opportunity to do the same,” said Melen.
To meet the projects goals, SSSI meets weekly to discuss concerns, upcoming volunteer and activism opportunities, and brainstorm group projects in the works to expand visibility.
The award will contribute to the goals of SSSI, according to Melen.
“Bringing recognition to the issues is the first step in activism,” Melen said.
Walker was recognized for his community outreach program, Educational Initiatives for Incarcerated Youths. The program was designed with the assistance of Prof. Nancy Cook, law, to provide educational opportunities for youth incarcerated in Mac Cormick Center, a maximum security prison for males ages 13 to 21.
“I feel that it is very important to support and educate the invisible population that is America’s incarcerated youth,” said Walker. “But it is our responsibility as members of the community into which these students have been thrust to reach out to them.”
This year the program began with a 20-week class on objective and creative writing. The funding provided by the award will enable Walker to buy textbooks for the course which will be intended for many years to come as well.
“By coordinating with law school faculty on this program, I was able to ensure that it will continue into the future after I graduate.,” said Walker.
Cadbury was recognized for his work with Secured Access For Emergencies, which provides protection for the elderly and disabled residents of Tompkins County during fire, medical and other emergencies. The program is targeted for high-risk and low-income residents. The protect was developed by the Varna Volunteer Fire Company in conjunction with the Tompkins County Office for the Aging and the Tompkins County Department of Social Services.
“There is a movement on campuses nationwide for inclusion of civic engagement to the curriculum. Cornell has been at the forefront of this movement for over a decade,” said Marcia Harding, executive staff assistant of the PSC.
Archived article by Carrie Tremblatt