Some Yale graduates may attempt to return to their bright college years by attending a football game, dancing at Toad’s, or visiting their old dining hall. Others might be interested in reliving their glory days as volunteers at the local soup kitchen or book bank. For Yalies who have made the Elm City their home after graduation, a growing partnership between the Yale Club of New Haven and Dwight Hall is helping them stay connected to their alma mater.
Now in its third year, the program places alumni volunteers with various community service groups in New Haven.
“The program started in 2000 as a joint venture between the Yale Club and Dwight Hall,” said Dwight Hall Publicity Chair Ben Staub ’06. “It was the idea of Ed Cantor ’61, then the president of the Yale Club [of New Haven]. His idea was to get members of the Yale Club involved with New Haven and with Dwight Hall students.”
Alumni who wish to volunteer are generally placed with one of five Dwight-Hall-affiliated organizations: Connecticut Job Corps, the New Haven Book Bank, the Ronald McDonald House, the Technology Access Center and the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen. But they are not limited to working with these agencies.
“Certainly, if there were an alum who was interested in some specific genre of service, they would be able to tap into Dwight Hall’s contacts in any field,” said Dwight Hall co-coordinator Brian Goldman ’05.
Besides working with the particular volunteer agencies, alumni also attend functions that let them get to know each other as well as the Dwight Hall student volunteers. A brown-bag lunch is held at Dwight Hall twice every month.
“The Yale Club is extremely active in providing scholarships to students here, but they wanted a more concrete relationship with the students and with New Haven,” Staub said.
Anna Pelczer ’05, coordinator of the Friday Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen, said additional support from local alumni would be welcomed.
“We can always use the help,” Pelczer said. “There are kitchens every night of the week, and some are very understaffed.”
Melaine Ginter ’78, vice president of the Yale Club of New Haven and a coordinator of the program, could not be reached for comment.
Staub sees the interaction between current students and graduates as one of the program’s main benefits.
“Partnerships like those with the Yale Club can provide guidance for our students and unique opportunities for our alumni,” he said. “The program creates bonds between people from different backgrounds that share a common goal — the goal to make a positive contribution to our community.”
Staub looks forward to expanding the reach of the program. Currently there are about 15 alumni involved as “core volunteers,” and about 30 total. While he said the program is small, there is considerable interest in expanding it. Staub said he is convinced that the partnership between the Yale Club and Dwight Hall is already starting to bear fruit.
“We hope that during the coming years Dwight Hall and the Yale Club will be able to create more of these bonds, and, as a result, help more people.”
Goldman said the program encourages Yalies to stay involved with service throughout their lifetime.
“People may graduate from Yale, but they shouldn’t graduate from Dwight Hall,” Goldman said. “They shouldn’t graduate from that spirit of service.”