When the Colleges’ community gathered for cheerful conversation and good company at the annual holiday reception hosted by President Mark D. Gearan and Mary Herlihy Gearan, HWS faculty, staff, alums and friends also gathered for a good cause. Carrying on a Colleges’ tradition, guests contributed food and monetary donations to the Geneva Community Lunch Program.
Jan Kenny, who oversees the program that serves hot lunches five days a week, was overjoyed to report that this year’s donations included 200 canned hams and $240. The donation equaled more than 500 pounds and nearly 2,500 servings worth of food that will be central to the Community Lunch Program’s meals throughout the year.
“Hobart and William Smith Colleges annual holiday contribution is just wonderful,” said Kenny. “It continues to set the tone for donations, especially non-monetary.”
The idea for the non-perishable donations came from President Gearan at the Holiday Reception in 2005, when the Colleges collected 320 pounds of ham. In 2006, HWS contributed another 492 pounds of ham and 75 pounds of other non-perishable food. The donation helps the Community Lunch Program run smoothly for the upcoming year and is just one of many facets of HWS’ Geneva Partnership with the community.
“The Colleges effort to continue connecting with the community is truly emphasized with Mark and Mary’s request for guests to bring goods to the holiday reception,” Kenny said.
“Their introduction of this concept to the community is exemplary.”
The Community Lunch Program was established in 1983 as an undertaking of the Interfaith Council in Geneva and is now operated by Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes. Recent findings report that the program serves almost 20,000 meals, 10 percent of them to children under age 18.
Students, faculty and staff from Hobart and William Smith are frequent volunteers at the free program, hosted by the First United Methodist Church on Main Street. “In fact, three William Smith students – Yanli Guo ’12, Jing Luo ’12, and Morgan Commette ’09 – recently assisted in rearranging refrigerated items, most of which were the Christmas Party donated hams,” Kenny explained in mid-January.
Each year, students in several service-learning classes volunteer for the program and the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) coordinates staffing on Thursdays during October and February.
“These are merely the officially sponsored days that we serve at the Community Lunch Program,” explained CCESL Associate Director Katie Flowers. “Many students visit the Program for service learning as well as volunteering.”
“Working at the site and realizing that thousands of meals are served there every year gives students a new perspective of Geneva,” Flowers said. “It’s both a humbling and important opportunity to be engaged with the Community Lunch Program.”
Interested volunteers may contact CCESL at firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 3825 for more information.