Community Service Coordinator joins staff following transition


Zachary Bahar, News Editor

Following the departure of former Community Service Coordinator Mary Collins, Diana Balitaan has taken the role with plans to take service at ETHS in exciting new directions. Balitaan is returning to ETHS after having worked as the program assistant during the 2015-2016 school year.

“Mrs. Collins was in this role for a very long time and she really built this department, this office, into a very robust one; I feel very lucky to come into a role that has worked so hard to integrate service into the culture here at ETHS… [However,] I’m excited to be pushing forward on a lot of different initiatives with the community service office to really integrate more education into the role and to integrate what student activism and advocacy look like beyond direct service,” Balitaan said.

At the heart of many of these initiatives is one idea: education about what service in the modern world looks like and how students can go about putting change into action.

“We do a lot of direct service, and I’m always thinking about how we can bring in more conversations around the education piece, so not just going and doing service, but knowing why we’re doing service,” Balitaan said. “When we see issues… we need to think about how we can directly impact this issue and build out projects from there, built out campaigns, build out next steps and who we invite to the table to do so.”

Part of this focus on education takes the form of advocacy workshops, something which has existed in previous years but which will now be receiving more of the spotlight.

“Advocacy workshops are really about how we [take] those steps and [talk] to major players, whether here at school or in the community,” Balitaan said.

Alongside these expansions, the community service department will continue to support clubs including the Community Service Club and Emerge with a continued emphasis on student involvement and leadership.

“Ms. Balitaan has been a great ally to me and the other leaders who want to reinvigorate our approach to the [Community Service Club],” senior and Community Service Club Board Member Echo Allen said. “Ms. Balitaan has helped add a layer of intention and purpose to the conversations we have and the events that we plan…. It’s encouraging to work with people like Ms. Balittan who challenges you to grow and apply that personal growth to the work that you do… the community has momentum and is pointed in a cool direction.

In addition to Balitaan, the Community Service Department’s work is supported by history teacher Andrew Ginsberg, paraprofessional Fitz Dennison and program assistant Neil Dixit, all of who are devoted to continuing the importance of service in our community.

“I really see [service] as something we all should be doing; not asking what can we change for ourselves, but what can we change for ourselves [our community],” Balitaan said.