2,672 hours of community service in a day: What does that look like?
Here’s a glimpse: dozens of hot meals for the homeless; hundreds of veterans greeted at an airport; thousands of mandarins sorted at a Food Bank. It looks like new trees planted in Toronto, a clean community center in Chicago, green gardens at an Upper Valley shelter—and so much more.
Members of the Dartmouth community organized around 54 service projects for the 2019 Dartmouth Alumni Day of Service, making this year’s event the largest in its five-year history.
Rachel Bogardus Drew ’98, chair of the Alumni Council Service Committee, attributes some of that unprecedented engagement to The Call to Serve, an initiative to contribute 250,000 hours of community service in honor of Dartmouth’s sestercentennial in 2019.
“The Call to Serve promotes individual acts of service by all members of the Dartmouth community,” Drew says. “We hoped the Alumni Day of Service would highlight the alumni part of that effort, providing opportunities around the world for alumni to engage with each other and give back to their communities.”
For many alumni, volunteering is a value that was first cultivated in college. “When I was at Dartmouth, service was a huge part of my experience there, so it’s great to continue that now,” says Pen Vineyard ’11, who donned a hairnet alongside 12 other Dartmouth community volunteers to prepare a meal of meatloaf at a soup kitchen in Stamford, Connecticut.
The service projects united alumni from a wide range of class years under a common cause. “It’s fun to meet alumni I previously didn’t know, as well as reconnect with those I’ve known for a long time,” says Valerie Armento ’73. Through the Dartmouth Alumni Association of Silicon Valley, Armento gathered a group of 10 alumni (from ’64s to ’18s) to sort and package 16,000 pounds of mandarins for Bay Area food banks.
“It’s always impressive to see the genuine interest, intellect, and enthusiasm with which Dartmouth alumni participate, says Kevin Hudak ’07, who helped organize an Honor Flight program in Washington, D.C. At the event, up to 30 alumni welcomed 350 veterans to the city. The WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War vets arriving to visit D.C.’s war memorials were met with cheers, claps, handshakes, hugs—and “Dartmouth welcomes you” signs. Hudak fondly recalls one volunteer saying he was proud of a veteran's service, to which the veteran quickly responded: "I'm proud of you for going to Dartmouth!"
"Holding a good conversation with the veterans seemed to make our presence and time even more valuable to these worthy heroes," Hudak says. "Service projects can be successful in many ways."
For more photos of the day, visit our Flickr page.