Members of the class of 2018 showed up in record numbers to Dwight Hall on Saturday morning for the annual Freshman Day of Service.
This year, 141 freshmen participated in the event — a 33 percent increase from last year. The volunteers cleaned, painted and tutored in around 10 different service sites within the Elm City. Dwight Hall leaders said the high turnout is promising for member groups seeking new volunteers.
Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway GRD ’95 opened the day of service with a speech urging service-minded freshmen to spend time in their new host city.
“The fact is, it’s too easy at a place like Yale to just take for granted all of the privileges around you,” Holloway said. “Take the time to acknowledge the people around you, whether it’s on campus or whether it’s going out into the city proper.”
The attendance at the Freshman Day of Service is a good indication of whether the new class will be involved in service throughout their Yale career, said Sterling Johnson ’15, Dwight Hall co-coordinator. This swell in participation is promising for Dwight Hall’s member groups, he said.
“If they’re interested enough to wake up at nine to volunteer, they’re interested enough to join Dwight Hall groups,” Johnson said.
All 10 freshman volunteers interviewed said they want to join a Dwight Hall member group.
The number of participants in the Freshman Day of Service also helps Dwight Hall leaders gauge how many students will apply for the Freshman Leadership Program — a semester-long service program intended to introduce a small group of freshmen to various service sites around New Haven, Johnson said.
The Freshman Leadership Program, which debuted with the class of 2017, introduces its members to service opportunities around the city and then encourages them to start their own independent service projects.
The class of energetic volunteers got their start this weekend. In most sites, groups of approximately 10 freshmen were cleaning or revitalizing neglected spaces. They visited a range of sites, including Artspace, Neighborhood Housing Services and Tower One — an apartment and assisted living community.
“It was a good way to get into New Haven and get outside of the Yale bubble,” said Daniela Brighenti ’18, who volunteered at Tower One.
Sending volunteers through the day of service allows Dwight Hall to maintain relationships with old sites as well as forge new ones, said Peter Crumlish DIV ’09, Dwight Hall executive director. Assessments from Tower One, new to Dwight Hall this year, will determine how the organization works with the living community in the future.
“We’re a university, but we’re also a city. We’re all residents of the city and we all have a role to play building the community together,” Crumlish said. “We hope that as soon as we introduce [the freshmen] to the work we’re going to do, they’ll get excited and join Dwight Hall,” Crumlish said.
The day of service also marks the beginning of the relationship between Dwight Hall and Beacon Self-Directed Learning — a center that provides resources for homeschooled teenagers. Following the day of service, the organization hopes to attract Yale tutors through connections with Dwight Hall, said Catherine Shannon, executive director of Beacon Self-Directed Learning. The nonprofit is currently in its second full year of operation.
Dwight Hall manages over 90 member groups in its education, social justice, international and public health networks.