SUNY New Paltz students said they are using skills from the classroom to create and sustain community outreach programs that better the lives of people in need.
Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) is an international non-profit organization with more than 1,500 teams operating in more than 39 countries. The campus chapter of the organization was created in 2003 by the School of Business and the first club meeting of the semester took place on Oct. 25.
After losing a majority of their members to graduation last year, the team is rebuilding. The goal of the global organization, founded in 1975, is to “bring together leaders in business and higher education to mobilize university students to make a difference in their communities while developing their skills to become socially responsible business leaders,” according to the SIFE website.
Each year, SIFE holds a world cup displaying the impact that SIFE teams are making worldwide. Teams from around the world compete and the winner is crowned world cup champion.
SIFE President Rachel Carr said she was pleased with the turnout of the first meeting and hopes to attract students who are dedicated to making a difference in others lives. About 30 people attended the first meeting and generated new project ideas.
“Our first meeting was great,” Carr said. “Everyone on the team is enthusiastic and the energy levels are propelling us forward.”
Since the initial meeting, two more meetings have been held since the initial meeting and members have already brainstormed a few projects, including a program that will show children the importance of a healthy diet by teaching them how to cook nutritional meals. This team allows like-minded students to access resources that enable them to conceptualize and bring projects to life that positively impact not only the New Paltz community but surrounding communities as well, Carr said.
Fourth-year environmental geochemical science major Ashley Peters is a part of the SIFE team and plans on joining the group to educate local children to prepare healthy meals. The members of this group also hope to incorporate local food into this program so both children and community as a whole will benefit. Peters joined SIFE to strengthen her leadership skills while connecting with the local community and gaining volunteer experience. She believes this team can lead to personal growth for all SIFE members.
“I believe that [SIFE] has the potential to assist in one’s personal development,” Peters said. “In this increasingly detached world that we as students will soon have to join and assert leadership within, involvement in SIFE can hopefully assist in educating its participants to become socially responsible members of a greater society.”
Rief Kanan, lecturer of accounting and advisor for the team, acts as liaison between the business community, the college and the greater community that the SIFE team hopes to positively impact. Kanan attends every meeting and uses his experience with past teams to advise students about new projects. He is excited to rebuild of the SIFE team and believes this is a good time for it because of “tremendous new boosts of creative energy with job opportunities and projects to complete.”
Past projects include an after school prepatory course held at Newburgh Free Academy. Freshmen through seniors were able to attend this course held once a week and SIFE members taught students about the college application process and other aspects of college life. A food drive was organized last year and Carr hopes to hold the food drive again.
The SIFE team also aided children in the foster care system. Children in foster care are no longer supported by the state after they turn 18 years old and a previous SIFE team taught these children how to create a resume, apply for school or a job and balance a checkbook.
Carr said anyone who joins the team should be prepared to have input and actively participate in discussions. She considers this team a community where everyone’s ideas matter and a place where all goals can be achieved.
“What I love about SIFE is that through everything, the underlying message is that students can do anything they put their mind too,” Carr said. “This is not a club that we have joined, we have formed a team and will work together to achieve our goals as one.”
A flag-football tournament will be held on Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the turf field. All proceeds from the tournament will help fund SIFE’s upcoming projects.
Meetings are held on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. in Van Den Berg Hall in room 217 for those interested in joining.