Profiles in Civic Engagement: Nico Meyering

Photo by Tyler Constance '14.
Year: First
Program: Master’s in Public Administration

  • Volunteers with Binghamton Food Not Bombs
  • Started non-profit group "Books Not Bombs," which gives free books to low-income individuals in Broome County, with Binghamton University alum Ethan Lewis '09
  • Service Committee chairman for the MPA Graduate Student Organization
  • Worked with REACH during HIV Testing Day
  • Performs at the Food Co-Op’s Open Mic Nights
  • Volunteered with Southern Tier AIDS Prevention

How did you first get involved with community service at Binghamton? 
My career in community engagement began before I came to Binghamton University, and when I first moved to the Binghamton area, I was looking for something to occupy my time. I found myself peeling potatoes in a church basement for a local chapter of an organization called Food Not Bombs, whose mission is to "re-prioritize the lives of the world's citizens, focusing on keeping people alive...by feeding the hungry in our community instead of contributing to the war profiteering machine." I never thought that getting involved in Food Not Bombs would become such a large part of my life!

What kinds of volunteer experiences have you had here, and what organizations have you worked with?
Spring 2012 is my first semester at Binghamton University, where I’m earning my Master’s degree in Public Administration. I've made many friends through volunteering at Food Not Bombs’s weekly community meal, including members of the Food Co-Op on campus where I perform during open mic nights. I’ve also worked with REACH during their HIV testing day after getting some experience in sexual health education by volunteering with Southern Tier AIDS Prevention, a community non-profit group. I am most proud of the non-profit group I began with Binghamton alum Ethan Lewis, Binghamton Books Not Bombs, which gives free books to low-income individuals in Broome County. We also give books in our inventory to area book drives. The Black Student Union and the Haitian Student Association got three boxes of books from us. We have even teamed up with senior Emily Patka to provide books to people in correctional facilities. On campus, I am a member of the GSO Budget Committee and the GSO Elections Committee.

How have you been involved with the Center for Civic Engagement?
Along the way, the Center for Civic Engagement has been an integral partner in my work. Because they listed my organizations in their volunteer database, more people know of my groups than ever before, and we have more volunteers than we could have ever hoped for! I am also the Service Committee chairman for the MPA Graduate Student Organization, and the CCE’s service listings have helped us find community partners with whom we can work. The CCE is at the forefront of creating partnerships between campus and community.

Why do you think it is important for students to become civically engaged?
Civic engagement does not just benefit an organization or cause. It also benefits the volunteers themselves; nothing looks better on a resume than volunteer work. Hands-on experience for a cause you’re passionate about speaks volumes to employers! Volunteering helps people grow personally, socially and professionally. It makes you not only a better person, but also a more interesting person - even if it starts with peeling potatoes.

Interested in being featured in our next "Profiles in Civic Engagement" or know someone doing great things in our community? Nominate someone by submitting his or her name and e-mail address here. Self-nominations are accepted and encouraged.

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