Service week gets underway

More than 100 freshmen turned out to kick off the Yale College Council-Dwight Hall Week of Service this past Saturday, coming together in an effort to help the homeless and clean up local parks.

The second annual Week of Service, which will run through Saturday, involves service projects and educational events about social justice issues in New Haven and beyond. In addition to Saturday’s Freshman Day of Service, these activities will include river clean-ups, movie screenings and dinner discussions — all in order to reach out to many people with various interests.

“We just want people to find and embody service in all areas of their life, having service as a mentality on how they approach situations,” said Jill Hagey ’11, co-coordinator of Dwight Hall’s student executive committee.

Hagey said the Freshman Class Council approached Dwight Hall about having more active freshman participation in the Week of Service, and as such, the Freshman Day of Service was included in the Week of Service for the first time since the Week’s debut last year. Saturday’s event drew even more freshmen than the similar freshman-oriented day of service at the beginning of the year, which was organized by Dwight Hall as well, Hagey said.

One of Saturday’s highlights, said Robin Tang ’11, treasury coordinator of Dwight Hall’s student executive committee, was the “successful” trash clean-up of East Rock Park, in coordination with Friends of East Rock Park, an environmental advocacy group.

“We had a lot of good feedback from volunteers and park rangers,” she said. “It’s was nice for them to experience tangible results.”

Tang said Dwight Hall did not face financial challenges involved in organizing the Week of Service. For example, she said, the dining halls provided food in exchange for student ID numbers, so Dwight Hall did not have to spend extra money to provide food.

Discussion topics addressed throughout the week will include education, justice, public health, civic engagement and social justice, according to the Dwight Hall e-mail newsletter sent by Joe Breen ’12, public relations coordinator for Dwight Hall. (Breen is a staff photographer for the News.)

Hagey said the tough economic situation, which has put financial strain on non-profits, makes this year’s Week of Service especially important to the community.

In 2008, the year before the first YCC-Dwight Hall Week of Service, the YCC created a Week of Service for the Yale community in conjunction with other social justice groups on campus. Prior to that, the YCC only organized an annual day of service.

The week will end with the Yale Day of Service on Saturday, which will give students the opportunity to work with young children, teach computer skills to adults and clean up a park.

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