Center brings together community service efforts

Jennifer Greenstein Altmann


Sasa Olessi Montaño


Princeton NJ -- A Princeton student is organizing a workshop on how to write a grant proposal. A University program is looking for mentors for high school children who live in Mercer County. And a staff member is looking for a way to volunteer with the elderly.

All of these activities are going on at Princeton right now, but there is no single place where a member of the community can find out about them. That is about to change.

Sasa Olessi Montaño arrived on campus in July to become the first director of the new Center for Community Service, formed this year to act as a clearinghouse for everything that pertains to community service at Princeton. The idea was first proposed by Professor Burton Malkiel during Princeton's 250th anniversary celebration in 1996.

"His vision was to have an overarching center that would not only link all the programs on campus that engage in work in the community, but provide access to training and other resources that would yield a more meaningful experience for students," said Janet Dickerson, vice president for campus life.

The center will be funded by contributions from alumni and others made during the recently completed Anniversary Campaign.

As the center is launched this fall, Montaño's first task is to compile a database of all the volunteer projects under way on campus through organizations like Community House and the Student Volunteers Council, and through academic departments, colleges, student groups and religious organizations. She is hoping that members of the University community will let her know about volunteer efforts in which they are involved.

The center will serve as a resource for those projects by offering training, some funding and lots of organizational help. "The center is not here to take over anything or step on anyone's toes," Montaño said. "Community House and the Student Volunteers Council have a long and proud tradition, and they do very good work. We're here to support them and to build community among Princeton's different service communities."

The center's services will range from giving advice on where to park in Trenton to training volunteers on how to approach a mental health client. The center's staff will keep track of projects, and let groups know if they are duplicating their efforts or if one group has a resource another one could use. Eventually, students will be able to browse through listings of volunteer opportunities, and local community groups in need of volunteers will be able to list their activities through the office, which is located at 246 Frist. (The phone number is 258-7260). Montaño, who is in the process of hiring a program assistant, expects gradually to build up the center's offerings during this academic year.

Montaño has lived near Princeton for most of her life. She grew up in Lawrenceville and went to high school at the Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Princeton. After graduating from Bryn Mawr College, Montaño worked in a bank for a year, but she quickly realized that career was not the right one for her. She earned a master's degree in international relations and economics from Johns Hopkins University, and then, as a young mother, worked part-time as an interpreter in Trenton's courts, where she often ended up on cases in family court. That experience led her to found Latinas Unidas, a program to help Latina women cope with domestic violence.

Most recently, Montaño had been the executive director of the YWCA of Trenton. She plans to use her connections in Trenton to offer additional opportunities there for members of the University community.


September 24, 2001
Vol. 91, No. 3
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In the news
Paying Tribute, seeking understanding
Financial aid improvements help achieve more diversity
Special events mark installation celebration
Building was booming on campus this summer

Trustees grant faculty promotions
Biologist has an artistic alter ego
Princeton Prep Program

Celebration set for Oct. 6
Office is resource for community
Center brings together community service efforts
University shares knowledge through auditing program
By the numbers: Community commitments

Calendar of events
Nassau Notes
News briefs
Research notes

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Editor: Ruth Stevens
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