Bright and early, the members of the Classes of 2014 gathered on the Quad, ready to embark on a day of community service. This year’s first Day of Service sent more than 625 students into schools, parks, churches and more, helping students explore the ways in which they can make their new community a better place to live and learn.
“I’ve done community service before,” said Alexa Crivelli ’14 of Ewing, N.J., as she pulled a particularly stubborn weed from Geneva High School’s landscaping. “Today we’re really getting our hands dirty.”
Students got down to work lending a hand at more than 30 sites including clearing debris at Kashong Conservation area, leveling baseball fields for Geneva Little League, and sorting donated clothes for the needy at St. Peter’s Church. “It always feels good to help out a community,” said Juan O’Farrill ‘14 of West Palm Beach, Fla. “Because of this, students will grow to appreciate helping people.”
“I remember feeling that I was really experiencing the Geneva community,” recalled Orientation Mentor Andrew Robichaud ’13 of Natick, Mass., of his Orientation Day of Service just one year ago. Last year he stained park benches, and this year Robichaud spread mulch in front of the Geneva Middle School. “It’s good to help out your new home.”
Susan McGowan, a social worker with Geneva City schools, helped HWS students with their work. “It’s great to have the help,” said McGowan. “A lot of the first-year students come in from out of town, and don’t know Geneva. This is a way to see and experience Geneva; a way to get students off campus and build a connection between Geneva and HWS.”
“This has a big impact on the school,” said McGowan. “When the High School and Middle School students arrive next week, the school will look warm and welcoming, and that is extremely important for the kids.”
Geneva High School Principal Bill Rotenberg ’87 already felt a strong connection with the students of HWS before this morning. Aside from being a Hobart graduate, he also sees many of the Colleges’ students throughout the school year. “We’ve had tons of students here for student teaching, mentor programs, and many other activities,” explained Rotenberg.
Orientation Mentor Kazia Berkley-Cramer ’13 of Maynard, Mass., could see the change of attitude in the students as they worked. “I think that they’re already starting to see the connection HWS has with the people of Geneva.”
All of the hard work certainly paid off, and students felt inspired to continue to improve the community. “I love this,” said Marielle Verni ’14 of New Rochelle, N.Y., while carrying a large bin of recycling at the Geneva Community Center. “I think that at the end of the day what we’ve done is very helpful. I’ve worked with Habitat for Humanity before, and at my hometown’s animal shelter; it’s work I really hope to continue in Geneva. “
Executive Director of the Geneva Community Center Robin Glasgow expressed his gratitude for having some helping hands. “The students have been awesome,” he said. “They’re washing windows, pulling weeds, cleaning out our athletic rooms. This is a great opportunity for new students to learn about the center, and hopefully encourage them to get involved here – or anywhere in Geneva – for the next four years.”
In the photo above, Kelsey-Leigh Devane ’14 and Angelo Crea ’14 clean windows at the Cracker Factory, a renovated industrial building on Lehigh Street that houses non-profit art groups.