First Link Orientation Program
"It was through First Link that I first came to understand the great potential of what I can do with my community and with my abilities to help others in my time here at Smith College."
–Paula Gonzalez Del Real '13
The First Link community service orientation program combines short-term community service projects and reflective discussion. It introduces students to local community partners and helps them put community needs into context. First Link is a collaboration between the Community Service Office, the Center for Community Collaboration (CCC), and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.
In the past, students in First Link have helped to build a Habitat for Humanity house, selected and packed books to send to prisoners, helped develop farm land, and helped a nonprofit organization prepare for a local fundraiser. Participating students examine local social problems, discuss effective solutions, improve their skills in working with diverse communities and discover how community service relates to a college education. Workshops focus on issues related to working in diverse communities. First Link participants also enjoy meeting other new students with similar interests.
First Link 2014 will accommodate as many as 21 women and trains six students as team leaders. This year we will be working with Nuestras Raices, a grassroots non-profit orgaization that is based out of Holyoke, MA. Nuestras Raices promotes economic, human, and community development in inner-city Holyoke through projects relating to food and agriculture. It draws its membership and leadership from a network of community gardens.