La Salle University’s Community Building Team will host its third annual Explore Your Health! community health fair on Saturday, Oct. 4th, from noon to 3 p.m. at The Shoppes at La Salle, Chew and Wister Streets.
Highlights of the fair include free health screenings offered by La Salle’s Neighborhood Nursing Center, information and giveaways distributed by more than 50 vendors representing local healthcare related businesses and retailers, tours of La Salle’s new community garden, free raffles, sports clinics and other activities for children, a Zumba demonstration, and live performances by student and local artists.
More than 150 La Salle students, faculty, and administrators worked on Explore Your Health! to raise awareness about medical issues facing the community and to provide resources from the University and vendors to address them. The event is an initiative of the University’s Community Building Team, a group of faculty, staff, students, and area residents who commit themselves to the Lasallian value of “together by association” through creative thinking, dynamic decision-making, solidarity, and simply being good neighbors.
“Explore Your Health! is a great example of how the University lives out its Catholic and Lasallian mission as a socially responsible member of our neighborhood,” said TiRease Holmes, Chairperson of CBT and Director of Off Campus and Commuter Communities at the University. “It helps us establish partnerships with our neighbors in the process of economic revitalization. Plus, it’s just a fun event.”
“We were very excited that the health fair doubled in size last year, with nearly 300 participants and more than 50 vendors. There is something for everyone at the health fair, including activities for children, information and screenings for senior citizens, and general health information and screenings for all ages,” said Holmes. The Zumba aerobic fitness demonstration is always very popular in getting participants active.
“Urban environments present unique challenges to keeping populations healthy,” according to Holly Harner, Ph.D., Chair of La Salle’s Department of Urban Public Health and Nutrition.
“People who live in urban environments also live with the realities of crime and poverty and are under chronic stress, which contributes to heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, and often don’t have access to quality health care,” Harner said.
Many urban neighborhoods don’t have outlets that sell fresh fruit and vegetables, Harner said. Poor nutrition contributes to diabetes, she said, and the density of urban areas contributes to asthma.
Urban areas benefit from the close association of community members, with projects such as community gardens and urban farming.
“We planned this fair because it’s a great opportunity to put forth a collaborative effort in which we can address the needs of our greater community by sharing resources within and outside the University,” Holmes said. “It’s also a great opportunity for the University community and community members to positively interact with one another surrounding a topic that impacts us all—health.”
The health fair exemplifies Lasallian values through active citizenship, outreach, and engagement. Together with the community, La Salle will be collaboratively educating, informing, and bringing awareness to neighbors and students on various health issues.
For more information about participating in the health fair and/or registering as a vendor, visit http://studentaffairs.lasalle.edu/communitybuilding or call 215.951.1916.
La Salle University tradition has the President of the Students’ Government Association (SGA) address the incoming freshman class and their families at the University’s Opening Convocation, and this year’s SGA leader, Ashley Torres, is no stranger to speaking before large crowds.
“I still get nervous right before speaking, but the freshmen are just as nervous with starting their new journey!” she said of her address on August 21. “Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to about 100 young people at the Redemptorists’ Young Adult Dialogue in Canandaigua, N.Y., which was a religious retreat for Catholic youth from Redemptorist order parishes.”
More than 1,000 freshman students, transfer students, and their families were in attendance at the convocation. Torres’s talk focused on the Lasallian community and values that will change the new students’ views on the world.
A senior political science major, Torres decided to run for President when other SGA members encouraged her.
“That was truly a compliment and a risk I could not turn away from,” she said. “Since I was a young girl, people have told me I was a natural-born leader, because I have always been fearless when in social situations and taking initiative before I was asked, and you would find me leading a game or teaching a quirky song to friends. In addition, I was always the one in our family with creative ideas and made sure we acted upon them. But I never thought I would be the student government president at the college I attended.
“La Salle University has given me numerous opportunities and has broadened my perspective, and this role is the least I could do,” she added. “I truly care about the students and their ideas. After all, this is our school and I want to make sure our voices are heard.”
In addition to the SGA, Torres has been involved with AIDS Outreach, service trips with Project Appalachia and to the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. She spent two years volunteering with AmeriCorps, where she was a college-prep mentor for students in Philadelphia’s Kensington section, and she interned at the city’s chapter of the Arthritis Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania.
Torres had been an SGA senator, and last year she was the organization’s Vice President of Public Affairs. “I sat on the community-building team and student media committees, started a new video blog with SGA updates, and managed our social media,” she said.
One goal she has for her presidency is to “make sure students know the potential SGA has to make their campus better. Students are not readily seeking Senate members out for improvements. SGA is looking for better communication methods; whether mock town hall meetings or more social media outreach, we have to find the best ways to serve.
“The Students’ Government Association is composed of dedicated members who work towards the well-being of our community,” she added. “I want to make sure that we are coming up with innovative ways to gather input from our constituents, the students, to strategize and get needs met this year. I want students to know that La Salle’s administration is lending their ears and is here for our success.”
After she graduates from La Salle, Torres said she’d like to spend a year of service on the U.S.-Mexican border and further her education in either law or politics.
During spring break last year, Torres was in a class that travelled to El Paso, Texas, to learn about immigration up close. They roomed at a church there that has a program for college students to visit and learn about border issues.
“The horrific and desolate conditions I witnessed forever changed my perspective on the privileges I have as an American,” said Torres, whose family is from Puerto Rico. “I had the chance to speak to migrants from Mexico who shared their life stories, which were both disheartening and inspiring at the same time. I want to be an advocate for Mexicans and South Americans because nobody deserves to be treated as a subhuman.
“I plan to apply to a few service programs to reaffirm my passion of working toward a better future for the immigration system,” she added. “That is where my heart is and I know with the experiences I will have, this could be my driving force through graduate school.”
For his commitment to the well-being and success of students, Alan Wendell, Senior Associate Dean of Students at La Salle University, was awarded the University’s Lasallian Distinguished Educator Award. It honors outstanding members of the La Salle community who exhibit in their daily lives a commitment to Lasallian priorities and traditions.
Wendell has been at La Salle for 26 years, and he said the best part of his job is “being with a student who is struggling, and then having the opportunity to watch them move through a situation and succeed.”
When notified he received the award, Wendell said his first reaction was “pride in thinking that people somehow link the work I do with the work of previous award recipients.”
He said he became interested in student life while pursuing a graduate degree in counseling psychology at the University of Kansas. “I enjoyed helping students work through issues, but learned there were many more ways to do that than through daytime appointments in my office. Often the help was more valuable and appreciated where they lived,” he said. “So I began my career in residence life at the University of Kansas. From there I moved into the resident life position at La Salle.”
He began as Assistant Director of Resident Life for Judicial Affairs, then successively became Assistant Dean of Students, Associate Dean of Students and then Senior Associate Dean of Students. During his first six years at La Salle, he and his wife, Deidre, daughter, Callan (“Callie”), and son, Jacob, lived on the La Salle campus, first in a University apartment and then in a townhouse. They now reside in Fort Washington, Pa.
A letter nominating Wendell for the award stated, “Alan promotes education in all endeavors, believes in the value of learning from mistakes, and promotes excellence. He works hard and thoughtfully and expects others to as well. Alan is often taking on additional projects to promote the well-being of students. Examples of these additional projects over the years include: co-chairing the Dining Service Committee, serving on the Service-Trip/Students Traveling work group, co-advising the Jazz/Pep Band, and advising the Community Development Advisory Board.”
The letter continued, “While Alan does not teach in a traditional classroom, he certainly educates beyond the classroom! He strives to incorporate learning opportunities into the residential communities via the Honors Community, Signum Fidei Community, and Business Scholars Community. Alan also infuses learning into the conduct process. He ensures students are familiar with and have access to the community standards and trains his staff to take an educational approach to conduct hearings.”
Wendell oversees community development at the University, which includes: Building and sustaining the residential communities; supporting our commuter and off campus students, providing support and oversight to student crisis situations; communicating high expectations for student conduct and challenging student misbehavior, support and oversee activity of student organizations, provide opportunities for student leadership development, develop and manage new programs for incoming students.
La Salle University was established in 1863 through the legacy of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the Christian Brothers teaching order, which St. La Salle founded in 1680. La Salle is an educational community shaped by traditional Catholic and Lasallian values. The University is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 30 schools in the North Region and among the top 10 Catholic schools in the region.