A Niagara University student assists a boy at the Francis Center in Niagara Falls, N.Y. NU students have provided support to the nonprofit organization all semester as part of a course on management principles.

Niagara University students have many opportunities to help the community while receiving their education. This semester, students in Professor Mitchell Alegre’s Management Principles course (MGT271A) have been doing just that.

The students have been working at the Francis Center in Niagara Falls, N.Y., a not-for-profit organization that educates underprivileged children in second and third grades. The goal is to provide awareness and increased support to the impactful work the Francis Center does.

The course is structured as an organization – with various departments. Like all organizations, its members seek to please their clients. The students recognize that this is not just a project for a course, but a way to help the community. Hearts and minds have been deeply invested in helping the Francis Center and the children it educates.

Peter Mrazik, a senior accounting major, said, “I hope to take away from this project a realization that I helped not only the Francis Center, but a group of children who are in dire need.”

Derek Grochowski, a junior marketing major, said, “This is important to me because unlike some classes, this project gives us a chance to make a difference in the community.” Grochowski added that he is proud to be part of such an amazing experience.

Megan Piluso, a junior marketing major, agreed with what Mrazik and Grochowski said, and added that working with the Francis Center resonates with her. “I believe what the Francis Center does is so important and essential with helping underprivileged kids,” she said.

The students are not the only ones who are being impacted by the work. Sister Elizabeth Neumeister, OSF, founder and director of the organization, stated that she is very grateful for what the NU students are doing.

Neumeister stressed that increased awareness is paramount in order to keep the organization running. “We do not charge for our programs,” she said. “That is why we write for grants and do fundraising. Our expenses include salaries, phone, postage, copying and office supplies, activity supplies, program fees, food, travel, rent, maintenance, legal fees, and audit fees, to name a few.”

According to Sister Neumeister, the Francis Center serves about 100 children each year. Donors directly contribute to the education of those children; therefore, a lack of donors would have detrimental effects on the Francis Center. Alegre’s students are using their skills – expanding social media, conducting fundraisers and creating strategic plans – to do their part in ensuring that does not happen.

Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The students in MGT271A are using their NU education as a “powerful weapon” to change the world, one community at a time.

Students from Alegre’s course will be holding a fundraiser on Thursday, Dec. 3, in the Gallagher Center’s Multi-Purpose Room. All students are encouraged to come to lend support.

For more information on the Francis Center, please visit www.franciscenter.com or follow the nonprofit on Facebook and Twitter. The center’s Twitter account was instated by Alegre’s students. They are in the process of creating a YouTube channel as well.

Article and photo by Niagara University senior Alanna Cedrone.

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