Students Give Back to the Local Community

Students Give Back to the Local Community

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Despite a difficult year and less in-person opportunities for service learning, Fairfield Dolan students found ways to dedicate their time to vital initiatives. 

One of the core values of a Fairfield education is service to others, a concept grounded in the University’s Jesuit roots. The following highlights three projects from Dolan students that are examples of this important work. 

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program 

Originally established in Bridgeport, Conn., Ahmed Ebrahim, PhD, CPA, CMA founded the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program site in 2009. The site has since moved to Fairfield Dolan and Dolan accounting students participate in the program by providing free tax assistance to low- to moderate-income individuals and families who are unable to prepare their own tax returns. While students traditionally meet with clients in person, the pandemic required volunteers to move their services online. The VITA program is a component of the "Individual Taxation: Socioeconomic Applications" course.

“This class has allowed me to see the direct correlation between my passion for service and my interest in tax accounting,” said Kallan Hook '21. “I have not only become more confident in my ability to directly apply my learning to the VITA Program, but I have also felt a greater sense of fulfillment by being able to see how I can make a positive impact for families.”

Dolan Social Impact Summer Internship Program

Last summer the Fairfield Dolan Social impact Summer Internship (SISI) program was established to connect students seeking valuable internship experience with local businesses in need of assistance. Last year four students participated in the program and since then the program has grown to be able to offer ten students a chance to engage in service learning this summer.

One of those students is Dante Gizzo ’22 who is an information systems and operations management major with a minor in business analytics. As part of an Information Systems course he took last semester, Gizzo was paired with classmates to local organization Green Village Initiative (GVI), dedicated to growing food, knowledge, leadership, and community through urban gardening and farming to create a more just food system in Bridgeport, Conn. His focus was to assist GVI with establishing a more sophisticated database management system. Now, he will split his time this summer working in the gardens and  Reservoir Community Farm while continuing with the database project.

“Working with GVI has been a dream come true,” said Gizzo. In high school I participated in volunteer work and it has been rewarding to combine my coursework with hands-on community service.”

Grant Funding to Assist the Homeless

The work of Fairfield Dolan accounting major Carolyn O’Brien ’22 has helped the nonprofit organization Off The Streets of Bridgeport (OTSB) secure grant funding to aid their mission of supporting homeless and at risk individuals in the greater Bridgeport area.

“As a Fairfield Dolan student, I have learned valuable research, communication, time management, teamwork, leadership, and analytical skills that serve me well in my current position and everyday life,” said O’Brien. “Fairfield continues to provide me with many opportunities to serve others and practice social responsibility.”

Through the volunteer grant writing internship, O’Brien undertook extensive research and organization of financial statements and supplemental materials. As a result her proposal secured funding from Aquarion Water Company and her second grant application is currently under consideration.

“The members of OTSB and, especially all of the homeless citizens in our community who will be successfully housed due to her dedication and hard work, are deeply and extremely grateful to Carolyn for her commitment to our mission of housing the homeless, one family at a time,” said Gerard F. Agoglia’72, managing director of OTSB.

Tags:  Dolan School


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