Service Providers

By Judith Green

Scratch a Moravian, find a teacher.

Sometimes the teacher is in the guise of a tutor, a mentor, an advocate. A Moravian student turning a shoebox into a Christmas package with ribbons and glitter and every crayon in the 64-count Crayola box may not look like a teacher—but it turns out the shoebox project is part of the Learning Connection, a program to link elementary school students with college-age tutors, mentors, and role models.

But while teaching, in one form or another, is prominent among the ways Moravian students, faculty, staff, and alumni give of themselves to the larger community, they find other ways, too. An administrative assistant counsels a woman during the transition from prison to the workplace. A student musician plays the hornpipe from “Popeye” to a group of juvenile offenders. A senior administrator helps organize the annual Musikfest in Bethlehem.

From the day they arrive on campus, Moravian students reach out to the larger community as members of fraternities and sororities, dorm social units, athletic teams, and service organizations. They wrap the candles used at the Christmas Vespers services. (This year, 285 members of the incoming Class of 2006 wrapped 5,600 candles during freshman orientation.) They collect toys and barrettes and pencils and stick-on tattoos for needy children, sending them out in those decorated shoeboxes. They walk for breast cancer and animal rescue. Nursing students staff the mobile unit that brings dental checkups and toothbrushes to Lehigh Valley elementary school students.

And when their undergraduate days are over, the concept of giving back to the community doesn’t end up on a shelf along with their mortarboards. For several years, the College has held a Christmas banquet for the homeless and jobless clients of New Bethany Ministries. A former Moravian professor of sociology heads a service agency for incarcerated women, and many of her staff members are Moravian alumni. The College donated used computers to an impoverished university in Congo and electronic pianos to an enrichment program for Allentown high school students. Moravian music students gave a Saturday afternoon concert to juvenile offenders in Easton as part of a program run by a Moravian alumna, working in tandem with a retired doctor studying for his financial-planning certificate at the College.

Here are a few of their stories.

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Above, Nixaly Rivera scopes out her new computer while her mother looks on.

Photo: John Kish IV