With more than two dozen sites in the Geneva area, ranging from the local Habitat for Humanity house to the little league field, first-year students, faculty, staff and community members pitched in during the annual Orientation Day of Service.
“We’re definitely getting a good workout,” joked Hadley Seniff ’13 of South Glastonbury, Conn., who, with the rest of her group, stained picnic benches and landscaped the outfield at the Geneva Redwings baseball stadium.
Hobart and William Smith President Mark D. Gearan and his wife Mary Herlihy Gearan stopped by the new Geneva Community Center, set to open early this fall, to help beautify the garden in front of the building-weeding, planting and mulching alongside students.
“Citizenship is part of service learning, and for us, it’s important because more than anything this type of service learning says that we’re a part of Geneva,” Gearan said in a conversation with first-year students during the project. “In Geneva, there are variants of the issues facing our country-issues of poverty, class, race and environment-but the size of our city gives you the opportunity to make concrete differences in the community and interact with and influence other people who can make those same kinds of differences.”
Orientation Mentor Kristin Augenblick ’12, who worked with a group of students at the Geneva office of Agri-Business Child Development, agreed. “I hope that these service projects inspire first-year students to find something they enjoy doing in the community on a regular basis.”
After working with the Geneva Habitat for Humanity project through the Pre-Orientation Adventure Program and cleaning and re-organizing the gymnasium at the YMCA for the Orientation Day of Service, Abby Eustance ’13 of Wilton, Conn., is looking forward to more service projects at HWS. “It’s a great plan to get students involved with the community,” she said
Will Weldon ’13 of New Vernon, N.J., said that breaking down walls at the YMCA was “a successful way to get to know all the students in my First-Year Seminar – especially since I got to use a sledgehammer!”
Community members are thrilled to have the help, too. “I think this is wonderful,” said Christa Beizenbach, president of Geneva’s Zion Lutheran Church. “The playground used for our daycare was in dire need of a cleaning-we really appreciate the help. We’ve been lucky enough to have groups of students coming here for the past four years. They’re always so fast and hardworking.”
From preparing food for Geneva’s Community Lunch Program to grounds maintenance at Sampson State Park, students had rewarding work and lots to think about.
When they returned to campus, student volunteers were greeted by President Gearan and Geneva Mayor Stu Einstein, who praised them for their hard work and encouraged them, as members of the Geneva community, to continue to engage with and serve their new home.
As Gearan said to the Classes of 2013: “The hope of today’s service experience is for you to come out of it reflecting on how to continue to make yourself a citizen of our community and the communities beyond Geneva.”