Campus News

Bowdoin Recognizes Student Volunteers at Community Service Banquet

Story posted April 08, 2002

Bowdoin College held its second annual Community Service Banquet Wednesday, April 3, in Thorne Hall. The purpose of the event was to recognize the hundreds of student volunteers who take part in either one-time volunteer events or on-going efforts throughout the year.

During the ceremony a student committee, led by Kate Leach '04, awarded seven Common Good Grants to local non-profit organizations. The grants, which totaled $10,000, were funded by a restricted gift from an anonymous donor. This gift was intended to create a program in which Bowdoin students could learn about grants and philanthropy while building a relationship with non-profit organizations in the greater Brunswick community. To read about the Common Good Grants awarded click here.

Keynote speaker Meredith H. Jones, vice president for program development and grantmaking services at the Maine Community Foundation, shared the podium with David Becker '70, an arts consultant, who works with the Foundation's Equity Fund supporting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender programs. Jones also discussed the Foundation's Hearty Girls program, which mentors and works with middle school girls who face self-esteem and decision-making issues in Waterville and surrounding areas.

Bowdoin has much to celebrate with its extensive community service program. Seventy percent of Bowdoin students participate in community service during their college careers. They may be involved through their class, an athletic team, a social house, a volunteer program, or their own initiative. They spend their time organizing and participating in such activities as visiting with the elderly, taking the mentally or physically disabled out for activities in town, mentoring and tutoring school children, raising money for charitable causes, offering legal assistance in Portland, arranging blood drives, picking up litter, and collecting shoes for the needy.

Community service is not a requirement. Bowdoin students have built it into their campus lives. This year, about 300 students volunteer on a weekly basis. Over 12,000 hours of service is completed every year.

Bowdoin students were particularly determined to help anyway possible following the September 11 terrorist attacks. According to Lydia Bell, Bowdoin's coordinator of student community service programs, students "organized in a matter of minutes" after the news broke. Among their activities, 275 pints of blood were collected at a blood drive, students spent hours returning phone calls for the American Red Cross, and supplies were collected for and delivered to workers at Ground Zero.

Understanding that help is always needed close to home as well, students continued to focus much of their efforts within Maine and the greater Brunswick area.

At this year's Common Good Day, held September 22, 300 students, alumni, faculty, staff, and members of the Association of Bowdoin Friends tackled 42 different community projects ranging from visiting the elderly, painting, building a garden, cooking meals, mentoring and tutoring kids, and maintaining local trails.

All year long, Bowdoin students regularly volunteer in the following communities, among others:

Brunswick
Portland
Freeport
South Freeport
Woolwich
Topsham
Bowdoinham
Bath
Boothbay
Bowdoin
Richmond

A sampling of organizations with which Bowdoin students are involved includes:

Local schools (tutoring and mentoring)
Flying Changes Center for Therapeutic Riding
American Red Cross
Brunswick Fire and Rescue
Coastal Humane Society
Independence Association
Special Olympics
Habitat for Humanity
Home to Home
Midcoast Hunger Prevention
Merry Meeting Adult Education
Tedford Shelter
Volunteer Lawyers Project
World Shoe Relief

A sampling of student-run volunteer organizations:

Community Service Council
Baxter House Tutoring and Mentoring Programs
Bear Buddies
Bears and Cubs
Brunswick Junior High Mentoring Program
Hospital Volunteer Program
Portland Housing Authority After School Program

In her speech at the Community Service Banquet, Meredith Jones outlined ten tips to foster community building. It is clear that students at Bowdoin take all these tips to heart:

1. Volunteer in your community.
2. Seek out someone in your community whose opinions differ from yours, and seek to understand.
3. Be a mentor to a younger person.
4. Write a letter to the editor about an issue of concern to you.
5. Give to charity.
6. Be respectful of others.
7. Smile and make eye contact.
8. Thank the checkout clerk.
9. Practice random acts of kindness.
10. Finally, support your life's passions with your deeds.

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