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Refugee resettlement project wins Governor's volunteerism award


   

Will Evans, AmeriCorps Vista volunteer and project manager, and students Katherine Lodge and Brittany Gianetti Students Katherine Lodge and Brittany Gianetti, and AmeriCorps Vista project manager Will Evans accept the Outstanding Service-Learning Collaboration Award.


BLACKSBURG, Va., May 12, 2011 – The Roanoke-based Virginia Tech Pilot Street Project/Coalition for Refugee Resettlement – which helps resettled refugees transition into their new home – recently received the 2011 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award.

Through the project, Virginia Tech students volunteer in English classes, tutor students, and serve as mentors to individuals and families.

Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell presented the award to the project manager Will Evans, and the two student leaders of the Coalition for Refugee Resettlement program, Katherine Lodge of Centreville, Va., a junior majoring in political science with an African studies minor in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and Brittany Gianetti of Oneida, N.Y., is a junior majoring in biochemistry and biology in the College of Science. 

The Coalition for Refugee Resettlement is the student arm of the Pilot Street Project. 

The Governor’s award recognizes organizations that mobilize volunteers and cultivate civic engagement and social responsibility. 

This is the second time this year that the Pilot Street Project has received recognition for its efforts. The 2011 Gulf South Summit on Service Learning and Civic Engagement through Higher Education presented the project with the Outstanding Service-Learning Collaboration Award during the first week of March in Roanoke. The award is for providing a service-learning opportunity through community partnerships while meeting the needs of the community served.

The Pilot Street Project is a partnership among Virginia Tech’s Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships, Catholic Charities’ Office of Refugee and Immigration Services, and the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority. It began in 2006 and, in the last year, provided more than 864 hours of instructional English classes to adults in addition to other types of programming for all ages. The population served includes men, women, and children from Somalia, Burundi, Ethiopia, Liberia, Eritrea, and Sudan.

Recently, the project joined forces with a new initiative, the Star City Soccer Foundation, to provide tutoring to immigrant and refugee youth at William Fleming High School in Roanoke. The Project also supported the tuition of seven Somali Bantu adults to attend the Grower’s Academy at the Roanoke Higher Education Center. 

Approximately 200 individuals are served annually through the Pilot Street Project/Coalition for Refugee Resettlement.  More than 135 Virginia Tech students volunteer with the project each year through service-learning classes. 

The Pilot Street Project is working to expand programming by raising $4,000 through an Open Challenge on Global Giving. Global Giving provides an avenue for people to donate money to help fund community service projects around the world. The money that is raised for the Pilot Street Project would fund a new program to provide one-on-one tutoring for teenage refugees to help them do better in school.       

Additionally, the Pilot Street Project is competing for a True Hero award, which invites people to vote on community service projects. The projects with the most votes are eligible to receive from $1,000 to $5,000. Last year the Pilot Street Project placed third.

Members of the Virginia Tech community can help the project achieve a higher ranking this year by voting for the Pilot Street Project, True Hero. Click on the tab — Vote: you decide — and look for the Pilot Street Project titled teaching English to African refugees. 

Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs supports the university’s engagement mission by creating community partnerships and economic development projects, offering professional development programs and technical assistance, and building collaborations to enrich discovery and learning – all with the overarching goal of improving the quality of life for people within the commonwealth and throughout the world. Outreach and International Affairs leads Virginia Tech’s presence on five continents; its regional research and development centers across the commonwealth focus on graduate education and professional development. Blacksburg-based centers are dedicated to student engagement, language, policy, and governance.