Campus News

Bowdoin Community Volunteers for 13th Annual Common Good Day

Story posted September 12, 2011

More than 500 students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends took to the greater Brunswick and Portland communities for Bowdoin's 13th annual Common Good Day Saturday, September 17, 2011. Alumni groups in seven cities across the country also volunteered in events planned for the day.

Launched in 1999, Common Good Day 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.”

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

“Common Good Day is a great way to kick off a new year of service at Bowdoin and for students to get to know more about the Brunswick and Portland communities in which they live," says 2011 Common Good Day Fellow Aileen Tschiderer ’12. Tschiderer worked throughout the summer coordinating the event, which included everything from consulting with local organizations to designing the traditional Common Good Day T-Shirt.

"Common Good Day is a great way to kick off a new year of service at Bowdoin and for students to get to know more about the Brunswick and Portland communities in which they live."

On Common Good Day 2011, teams of Bowdoin volunteers spent three hours working on various projects for approximately 60 local non-profit and municipal organizations.

“I'm always amazed how much work 30 college students can accomplish in just three hours,” says Kim Andersson, administrator at the Morris Farm. “Last year Common Good Fellows installed gutters and built a compost bin, this year they will help build a three-sided horse shelter and energy efficient window inserts for the farm house and Learning Center.”

Andersson says the McKeen Center has become a major factor in the Morris Farm’s success. “You funded our school garden and your student volunteers have helped around our educational nonprofit farm in many ways.”

This year’s Common Good Day projects included:

  • Helping with trail maintenance with the Freeport Conservation Trust, Wolfe’s Neck Farm, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and several other organizations
  • Cleaning up the coastline at Reid State Park with the Georgetown Conservation Commission
  • Working with Cultivating Community to support immigrant and refugee farmers by helping to harvest and weed
  • Running an afternoon of activities at the Salvation Army’s Kids Club
  • Preparing lunch at Preble Street Resource Center soup kitchen
  • Repainting an 1820’s one-room school house with the Harpswell Historical Society
  • Working at the Morris Farm in Wiscasset

“Each September, Independence Association gratefully counts on a group of Bowdoin students doing a job that staff and clients just cannot get to in their busy, busy schedules,” says Barbara Kaufman of the Independence Association. “Last year, a couple of gardens were trimmed and weeded; this year, our many vans will get their clean-uppance.”

Also speaking to the impact of volunteers on Common Good Day, Carol Mescas of the Riverview Foundation adds, “With their help we’re able to maintain our trails and campgrounds, enjoyed by hundreds of children and families throughout southern Maine.”

Volunteerism occupies an important place in the lives of many Bowdoin students, alongside attending classes, participating in athletics and other extracurricular activities. In fact, there are more than 25  student-led volunteer groups on campus and each year, Bowdoin students donate more than 50,000 hours of community service.

“Serving the Common Good and events like Common Good Day are about collaborating and strengthening communities,” says Tschiderer. “It’s inspiring to see how dedicated Bowdoin students are to the pursuit of the Common Good, not only on Common Good Day but throughout the year.”

“Common Good Day is an excellent way for Bowdoin students to be able to work with different organizations and non-profits around the state,” says Erin St. Peter ’13.

“Some students who volunteer with Common Good Day end up working with an organization that they serve on a regular basis while others have the opportunity to try something entirely different. Because it involves so many students, staff, alumni and faculty members, Common Good Day is a powerful way for the entire Bowdoin community to be reminded of its important commitment to furthering the common good and fostering the type of learning that can be applied beyond the typical classroom setting.”

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