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Stories of offering a hand up abound at SBU; featured during #GivingTuesdayatBonas

Dec 01, 2019 |

Cameron Hurst knows the power of a good story.

That’s why the St. Bonaventure University senior journalism and music double major from Jamestown, New York, is eager to share the stories of helping and healing found within the many programs of the Franciscan Center for Social Concern (FCSC).

Hurst said he has been transformed by interviews with alumni who have devoted a lifetime to service and by stories of Bona students who have worked with orphans in Guatemala or tended food from farm to table.

“It’s really given me an appreciation of the programs at Bona’s and how impactful they are,” he said. “Lives are being changed.”

Hurst pointed to the story of technology executive Mark Schmitt, a 1984 Bona grad, who took a sabbatical from professional life in 2018 to explore the world and give back. “His story is really incredible. Among other acts of service, he worked with the Red Cross in the Carolinas for several weeks following Hurricane Florence,” he said.

Another anecdote that lingers with Hurst is how Cory and Amanda Westbrook, owners of Chosen Grove Farm, in Canandaigua, New York, donated a “Bona Batch” of pasture-raised chickens for the Warming House, the university’s student-run soup kitchen.

“Amanda graduated from Bona’s and worked as a volunteer at the Warming House. They felt donating the ‘Bona Batch’ would be a creative way of giving back,” he said.

Hurst covered these stories and others for the latest issues of the Warming House and FCSC newsletters.

“Through volunteer work with the center’s programs, students and alumni realize the remarkable gift of giving,” he said. “And the people receiving a hand up experience hope and fellowship.”

Hurst works with the FCSC as a development associate. When he was 16, with no high school newspaper available, Hurst shadowed a mentor at Jamestown’s Post-Journal, hungry to learn journalism. By 17 he became a stringer with the newspaper and an award-winning sports blogger. Today he’s happy to put his skills to work for the FCSC.

“I can use my ability to write to help effect change,” Hurst said.

Alice Miller Nation, FCSC director, has enjoyed having Hurst as an associate this semester as the center prepares for its second annual #GivingTuesdayatBonas fundraising initiative on Dec. 3.

“Cameron came to us as a second semester senior, eager to learn about the FCSC and its impact on both our students and the greater Olean community. His positive attitude and hunger to more deeply experience our mission as it impacts the lives of others has been delightful to encounter each day,” Miller Nation said. “He’s been a huge help as we hope to raise $40,000 for our social justice, advocacy and service programs on campus."

The community is invited to visit www.sbu.edu/GivingTuesdayatBonas to learn more and to donate.

For Hurst, working with the FCSC has been a turning point.

“It’s given me insight on the importance of giving back,” he said. “A donation gives those served a place to go and an experience to hold onto. And for people like myself, it gives the opportunity to gain skills in areas of interest like communications and have the experience of working in a nonprofit.”

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About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. In 2019, St. Bonaventure was named the #1 regional university value in New York and #2 in the North by U.S. News and World Report.