Campus News

Bowdoin Community Prepares for 12th Annual Common Good Day

Story posted September 17, 2010

Approximately 600 students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends will take to the greater Brunswick and Portland communities for Bowdoin's 12th annual Common Good Day Saturday, September 25, 2010. Alumni groups in cities across the country also have events planned for the day.

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Launched in 1999, this event was inspired by the 1802 inaugural address of Bowdoin's first president, Joseph McKeen, who stated, "It ought always to be remembered that literary institutions are founded and endowed for the Common Good, and not for the private advantage of those who resort to them for education."

Common Good Day provides the largest single-day opportunity for Bowdoin students to live out Joseph McKeen's words.

"Common Good Day includes over one-third of the student body and is an exciting kick-off to a year of service at Bowdoin," says 2010 Common Good Day Fellow Caitlin Callahan '11.

Callahan worked throughout the summer coordinating the event, which included everything from consulting with local organizations to designing the traditional Common Good Day T-shirt.

On Common Good Day 2010, teams of Bowdoin volunteers will spend three hours working on various projects for approximately 60 local non-profit and municipal organizations, resulting in 1,800 hours of service.

Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good

Check out the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good Web site, offering continuously updated content regarding community service opportunities, a schedule of events and other happenings.

"The ArtVan, a mobile arts therapy program of VSA arts of Maine, has been a partner with Bowdoin College Common Good Days for the past four years," says Jamie Silvestri, ArtVan artistic director.

"As a non-profit organization, ArtVan has many facets to programming and our artists work very hard and wear many hats to make our program run efficiently. One of our biggest needs is the organization and upkeep of our storage of vast amount of art materials. It is a huge impact on the overall workings of the ArtVan Program when students spend the day with us and help to organize these materials and the storage space to maintain a positive working environment. We are grateful to the support and dedication of these students."

This year's projects include:

  • Helping with trail maintenance with the Freeport Conservation Trust,
  • Falmouth Land Trust and several other organizations
  • Providing organizational and clerical assistance for Community Financial Literacy
  • Participating in an autumn cleanup of dog trails at the Coastal Humane Society
  • Roller skating and playing games with children still waiting to be paired with a community mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick

"By connecting students to area non-profits in the fall, Common Good Day promotes continued service throughout the academic year.

The day serves as both a reaffirmation and a celebration of the Bowdoin community's sustained commitment to serving the common good," says Callahan.


Volunteerism occupies an important place in the lives of many Bowdoin students, right alongside attending classes and participating in athletics and other extracurricular activities. In fact, Bowdoin students donate more than 40,000 hours of community service each year.

"Common Good Day is a great example of the Bowdoin experience: people from all walks of life gathering and doing extraordinary work," says Benny Chen '11.

"For a few hours on that day, students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members work together with the common goal of improving their community. At the end of the day, the community is bigger and stronger thanks to everyone's contributions. Each year, I leave Common Good Day feeling proud of what we have accomplished and inspired by the potential for positive change that Bowdoin represents."

Members of the community are also invited to participate in the day and childcare will be provided.

For more information about how to get involved in Common Good Day 2010, email Caitlin Callahan or call (207) 798-4191.

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