Rebecca Vincheski, chief professional officer of the Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club, presents the Community Service Award to Niagara University students Theresa Selfe, Amber Thiel, Alyssa Krawczyk and Michael Pearl and NU campus minister Ashley Gruhalla.

The Niagara Plunge, a three-day pre-orientation program for first-year students that immerses them in Niagara University’s Catholic and Vincentian identity and mission, received the Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club’s Community Service Award during an event held today at the Como Restaurant.

Thirty-two NU freshmen participated in the Niagara Plunge this year, offering helping hands at Heart, Love and Soul, Summit Life Outreach, the Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club, ReNU Niagara, the Francis Center, Magdalene Project, and Holy Trinity Church thrift store.

The program is designed to be an abbreviated version of NU’s popular service immersion experience, Brothers and Sisters in Christ (BASIC). BASIC participants perform work locally and in areas like Camden, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Greensboro, North Carolina; St. Louis, Missouri; and the Republic of Panama during semester breaks.

The Niagara Plunge is coordinated by the university’s Office of Campus Ministry.

“We are extremely proud of the Niagara Plunge, which is built upon the pillars of community, prayer and Vincentian service,” said Kristina M. Daloia, director of campus ministry. “Through the program, students build lasting relationships while becoming familiar with the campus and campus resources, serving our neighbors in need, and exploring the local Niagara region, all while establishing a solid foundation for continued spiritual discovery and development through prayer and reflection.”

Service learning is a core component of Niagara University’s undergraduate curriculum. NU students participate in more than 1,000 hours of community service each week during the academic year, an indication of the university’s commitment to depicting a measurable impact of its teaching and service mission.

Niagara is the only college or university from Western New York to have been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll every year since it was launched in 2006. The institution is also included in the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Classification.