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A Makeover by Community Relations Class

COM students help Cambridge nonprofit with paint, toys, and books

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Real-world experience is a priority for the College of Communication Community Relations class of Jo O’Connor, a COM associate professor. For their most recent project, completed in early April, the students helped renovate three new therapy rooms at the Guidance Center, in Cambridge, adding more books and toys.

The Guidance Center provides therapy services for people from age one to 22. The center helps families cope with developmental, mental health, and disability problems. “We felt like it was a great local cause,” says class member Ali Amira (COM’10). “It’s great to see the hard work pay off.”

The class was divided into three project teams: operations, media/marketing, and strategy. To deliver on the center’s wish list, the BU team raised money from local sponsors. The partnership provided insight to the professional world, according to the COM students.

“I’ve learned a lot about community relations in general,” Amira says, “and how nonprofits work.” Laura Alvarado, the Guidance Center’s development associate for marketing and communications, worked with the students throughout the project. O’Connor’s class helped with a makeover of the rooms, which were offices before the center’s recent merger with Riverside Community Care. The COM students added bins of new toys, art supplies, and books, and painted the rooms.

The transformation from offices to therapy rooms took nearly all semester, with the BU team promoting the project in the community.

On April 12, the rooms were ready for the staff and students of the Guidance Center’s after-school program. At the same time, O’Connor’s students shared what the project meant to them. Alvarado describes the experience as a “warm fuzzy moment.”

“Workers at the after-school program could see the benefits, not just for the center but for the BU students,” says Alvarado.

Anna Webster can be reached at annaweb@bu.edu.

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