The Community Service Peer Leader program is geared towards students who wish to have a long-term structured service experience during their collegiate career and offers students an opportunity to interact with the community through service. The Peer Leader program helps to develop strong student leaders, who are active citizens in their community.
As a Peer Leader, Buffalo State students enroll in a 3-credit course and commit to serving 100 hours throughout the semester with a local non-profit organization, where they promote, recruit, and support volunteerism and service-learning. By participating in the Peer Leader program, Buffalo State students learn to identify community needs and assets, coordinate meaningful service, and enhance their interpersonal and leadership skills. On campus Peer Leaders attend class, lead volunteers as a site leader during community service days, and are afforded the opportunity to attend conferences and other trainings. Upon successful completion of 100 hours of service the program during the academic year, students are awarded a certificate of completion for this prestigious leadership program.
Additionally, the Community Service Peer Leaders exist to further connect the Buffalo State campus and the Buffalo community. One of the goals of the VSLC is to strengthen partnerships with community organizations in Buffalo and the Peer Leader program is one of the ways that the VSLC is able to achieve that goal.
Peer Leaders help to strengthen the mission of local non-profits through a position within one of the following focus areas:
Education members volunteer through the Buffalo State Community Academic Center (CAC) and provide in-class assistance and mentoring in elementary and secondary schools throughout the city, while additionally recruiting and supporting volunteer and service-learning connections. In the past, these members have served at Buffalo Public Schools #45 and #30, and West Buffalo Charter School.
2. Community Health
Community Health members provide health, wellness, and nutrition education to youth and families in the Buffalo community through a partnerships with organizations such as Holy Cross Head Start and American Red Cross. Community Health Peer Leaders create and provide health programing, conduct health-related outreach to the community, host Health Fairs, staff Blood Donation Centers, and educate pregnant refugee mothers.
3. Community Engagement
Community Engagement members assist and collaborate with the non-profit organization to meet an identified need, such as volunteer recruitment, community involvement outreach, evaluation and needs assessment, and institutionalizing new technologies. These members serve in roles with the VSLC, Alternative Break, and Community Academic Center.
4. Environment and Sustainability
Environment and Sustainability members provide support in the community with a number of non-profits who are dedicated to improving the community of the WNY region in terms of the environment, economy, and housing. In the past Peer Leaders have served with Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, Westminster Economic Development Initiative, and the Asarese-Matters Community Garden.
5. Homelessness and Vulnerable Populations
Homelessness and Vulnerable Populations members provide support for individuals in the Buffalo community that are experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, and food insecurity. These Peer Leaders spend their time working with organizations that work to help individuals rebuild their lives after suffering a devastation, including the Buffalo City Mission and Friends of Night People.
6. Refugee and Immigrant Populations
Refugee and Immigrant Population members provide support for the over 8,000 members of the refugee and immigrant communities in the city. These Peer Leaders provide English Language instruction and support with programs such as Journey's End Refugee Agricultural Program, BELL Network, Buffalo Beginnings, and Journey's End MAC program.
Youth members volunteer through the Buffalo State Community Academic Center (CAC) and provide after-school assistance and mentoring in programs throughout the city, while additionally recruiting and supporting volunteer and service-learning connections. In the past, these members have served at the Community Academic Center, XCEL Leadership Center, Grant Street Neighborhood Center, Frist United Methodist's Game Night and Making Fishers of Men and Women.