Story posted January 23, 2012
Each January, when students are on break from the College, faculty and staff get the opportunity to participate in a morning of service through the Community Action Days organized by the McKeen Center. Meant to connect colleagues from different departments across campus by having them work together at local community organizations, this year’s event marked the 6th such day and included 70 faculty and staff from Student and Academic Affairs.
After meeting for a light breakfast in Main Lounge of Moulton Union, groups departed for ten different service sites to learn about local organizations and the needs they meet in the community. At ArtVan, in Bath, volunteers helped sort materials in preparation for after-school programming in neighborhoods where kids use art as a form of therapy while making friends. At Freeport Community Services, which provides a range of services for low-income families, volunteers made batches of lasagna. In Brunswick, volunteers worked with children at Family Focus, cleaned animal cages at the Coastal Humane Society, and learned about The Gathering Place, a new program near MidCoast Hunger Prevention Program, which welcomes anyone during the day looking for a place to hang out and keep warm. Others spent the morning at Spindleworks, learning about the center for artists with disabilities. Both Curtis Memorial Library and the Topsham Public Library put volunteers to work with book shelving and shelf building, while groups at Thornton Oaks and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore helped with painting projects. Lastly, several rugged individuals traveled to Wolfe's Neck Farm and built insulated windows.
Returning to campus for lunch, the group was invited to reflect on aspects of the morning that resonated with them and to consider ways in which they may further connect these to their personal and professional lives – much as students participating in one-time volunteer projects are encouraged to find longer-term placements that better familiarize them with important issues in the community.
As the campus prepares to welcome students back with the community read of Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, many of the service sites provided opportunities for faculty and staff to think about the challenges low-income members in the Greater Brunswick area face on a daily basis.