LEWISTON — For the third year in a row, Bates College has earned national recognition for its commitment to community service. It has been named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, the highest federal honor a school can receive for civic engagement.

“It’s really nice to get this recognition for work that has been going on for a long time at Bates but really deepening and broadening in the last five years,” said Georgia Nigro, interim director of the Harward Center for Community Partnerships, which opened about five years ago. 

More than 620 colleges were named to the honor roll, according to Bates. In Maine, Colby College in Waterville, Unity College in Unity and the University of Maine at Fort Kent made the honor roll. Nationwide, 115 schools were named to the distinction list. In Maine, only Bates and Bowdoin College in Brunswick made that list.

Bates also made the honor roll with distinction in 2007 and 2008.

Every year, a third of Bates’ nearly 1,800 students take classes that include a community service component. At the same time, two-thirds of students work in the community outside of class requirements, in one-day volunteer events, yearlong community projects and service that lasts through a student’s four years at college. To help those volunteers, the Harward Center partners with more than 125 organizations, including local public schools, hospitals, state agencies and nonprofit organizations. It also gives students short-term and long-term grants to pursue community-based research and work-study projects.

Bates Senior Krystina Zaykowski has been volunteering at Longley Elementary School in Lewiston for four years. For the first three years she was a mentor, meeting with fourth- and fifth-graders once a week to talk, play and share lunch. This year she’s coordinating the mentorship program, earning $1,000 a semester in a fellowship the school established to encourage volunteerism and leadership within the community. 

Zaykowski had worked with children when she was in high school, and she wanted to continue that work in college. Bates, she said, made it easy.  

“They’re always announcing in e-mails offering days when to go and help out and stuff. I think Bates does a good job of seeking out those people (who want to volunteer),” she said. “Community service isn’t required at Bates. I think if it was required it’d be a huge turnoff. So you get the best people to come and volunteer because they want to come and volunteer; they want to get involved.”

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Bates College senior Kate Doria of Middlebury, Vt., helps a young student from Lewiston do his math at the Jubilee Center in Lewiston on Monday afternoon.

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