The weather on Saturday morning may have been cloudy, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the 220 Yale students, faculty and community members who participated in the fourth annual Community Service Day.
Organized by the Yale College Council, the event was meant to bring together students, faculty and staff for a morning of service with various New Haven organizations. Volunteer sites were dispersed throughout the city, some in places volunteers said they had never been to before.
“It’s great that this is a day to get to give back, but also to get to know [New Haven],” said organizer Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93, the associate vice president of Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs.
Participants met at the McDougal Center for Graduate Studies for breakfast before taking buses to their respective project sites, which included the Junta for Progressive Action, the Yale Farm and the New Haven YMCA. Service activities ranged from putting together miniature wooden sailboat kits at the Eli Whitney Museum to distributing books to the New Haven community with New Haven Reads.
While the YCC had hoped participation in Community Service Day would grow from last year, turnout remained stable compared to previous years, which event co-chair Larry Wise ’08 attributed to three factors. Wise highlighted the event’s 9 a.m. start time on a Saturday morning and the recent abundance of weekend service activities, including AIDS Walk New Haven and Relay For Life, as possible deterrents to participation in Community Service Day. He also noted the YCC’s choice to publicize the event primarily through e-mail rather than through fliers or posters.
Of the 11 volunteer sites available, East Rock Park and the Connecticut Children’s Museum seemed to be the most popular, according to participants. Helpers venturing up to East Rock worked with a park ranger, clearing brush and shrubbery along the hiking trails. Volunteers at the Children’s Museum converted English books into Braille and created Easter basket collages.
Bridget Deiters ’07 and Wise, who together organized the event on behalf of the YCC, said they increased the site offerings from five last year to 11 this year in order to increase the program’s variety.
“Part of the mission of CSD is not just to have people volunteer for three hours, but also to find them projects that would be fun for them to work on, that could fit into their lifestyles,” Deiters said.
Deiters, who has been involved with Community Service Day since its inception four years ago, pointed to the many volunteers who return to the event year after year as a sign of its success.
John Fox, a business administrator in the Physics Department, is one of the many regular Community Service Day participants and has volunteered at a different site each of the four years.
“I like meeting people and talking to students,” Fox said. “It’s a good program because it gives Yale people a chance to get out there and interact with the community, instead of staying in the enclaves of Yale.”
The YCC is working to expand the number of volunteers in response to community interest, organizers said.