MC Social Action Suite Generates Community Engagement

By Rebecca Kranich, Contributor

The Social Action Suite hosted an event for students to share their experiences volunteering in the local Bronx area and garner more student interest in community engagement. 

One of the most popular programs hosted by the Social Action suite is the Lasallian Outreach Collaborative, or LOCo, a weekly volunteer community engagement program. Those involved with LOCo work with local organizations that directly impact residents in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx.

Mary Derhaag ‘24 led a panel of four students, all from different schools of study, who answered questions and told stories of their involvement within different service programs. They also shared memories and how these programs shaped their experiences as Manhattan College students. 

Concourse House, located near Kingsbridge Heights, provides transitional housing and care for homeless women and children. Linn Zapffe ‘23 shared her experiences working with kids during afterschool programs and how her involvement with the Concourse House has benefitted her as a student. 

“I feel like I’m getting more experience as a psychology major and working with kids. I can apply what I’m learning in class and see the things professors are talking about while I’m working with the kids,” Zapffe said. 

Isabelle Gutierrez, a junior English major, also volunteered at Concourse House. After a L.O.V.E social justice and immersion trip she had been planning on participating in was canceled due to COVID-19, Gutierrez decided to get involved with LOCo. She began volunteering at Concourse House with recreational programming as a photographer. Eventually, Gutierrez was hired as a student worker under a federal work-study position. 

“One of the biggest aspects of photography is storytelling,” Gutierrez said when asked about the impact Concourse House had on her. She explains that the impact of photography is much more than just the fundraising or artistic element. 

“Individuals of that [the Bronx] community should speak for themselves,” Gutierrez said. 

Community-engaged learning courses let students interact with their local community and help them learn and address the needs of those most vulnerable.

Senior philosophy major DeVaughn Harris took a community-engaged learning course titled “Slavery in the Bronx.”

“Community engagement doesn’t just have to be through service, but it can be through engaging in activities, it allows inclusion of other members of the community,” said Harris. 

Olivia Stewart, a junior exercise science major, explained that volunteering is challenging in unpredictable ways.

“When we’re engaging in community service it can be overwhelming, but someone told me, if you focus on one thing it can change and make a difference in a much bigger way,” Stewart said. 

DeVaughn added, “The goals you set, may not be the goals you achieve at the end of the semester,” and “It is not wise to go in with preexisting goals.”

“It is very flexible, there’s so many different things to do. It is so much more than working for free,” Zapffe said when asked about advice for students looking to get involved.

The Quadrangle sat down with Jacquie Martin, coordinator of social action, to discuss the impact volunteering and community engagement have on students. 

“I think the college has an office [Social Action suite] like this on campus because the catholic and Lasallian mission is being of service to other people,” said Martin.

“In general, we live in this community, we live in the Bronx, and it’s nice to be connected to it in a genuine way,” Martin said. “It’s great when students can be off campus and in the community and get to know folks differently … If you are unsure if you can commit for a whole semester, we have one-time service [events]. You can get a sense of what is going on and meet other people. There are ways for people to ease into it without having to commit upfront, it leaves space for people to grow and fit into schedules.”If students are looking to get involved with CSMA, they can contact Jacquie Martin at or attend future events hosted by the Social Action suite.