A Tribute to Our Military – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

A Tribute to Our Military

In conjunction with the Day of Service, more than 150 students fanned out to 10 sites throughout the Geneva area to start the new semester by making a positive impact on the community in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Named for the words used by King in his “Drum Major Instinct” speech, the MLK Drum Major for Service Award was presented to Aminata Densocko ’15 during the weekend for her dedication and commitment to service. And, for the first time this year, students gathered in Albright Auditorium for a special valentine writing campaign as part of Day of Service.  

Working with the American Red Cross in the Finger Lakes, students created handmade valentines that will be sent to soldiers from Fort Drum, near Watertown, N.Y., who were recently deployed to Afghanistan.

“The Valentines are an important part of the morale-boosting effort to support our troops,” says Red Cross Vista Volunteer Doris Wolf. “Thank you for what your students are doing to support these brave young men and women.”

The organization has sent more than 20,000 valentines to date, all of which have come from volunteer groups from the community. In the past, letters have gone to Army troops in Iraq, Marines in remote outposts in Afghanistan, sailors aboard the U.S.S. New York, troops from Fort Drum, and soldiers stationed throughout the world.  This year, they are being sent to members of a platoon “adopted” by the local Red Cross who are stationed in a remote region of Afghanistan.

Day of Service Chair Sarah Feldman ’15 chose to take part in the outreach to soldiers. “This means a lot to me because I know that the work that we are doing is actually reaching out to the soldiers overseas who are fighting for us,” she says.  She was moved to see so many students working on the project with her; approximately 80 participated.

Henry Smith ’15, a member of Kappa Sigma, also found the letter writing gratifying. “It’s an easy event to take part in and make a significant difference. It is great to know that soldiers are getting these letters and valentines and knowing that we are actually thinking about them.”

Jeremy Wattles, assistant director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) explains the MLK Jr. Day of Service provides the opportunity for students to “take time to listen to Martin Luther King Jr. and his speeches and really think about what he meant and how it impacts our world.”

Among the organizations where students worked were the Community Lunch Program, Geneva High School, North Street School and Finger Lakes Regional EMS Council.

Many students registered to participate in Day of Service individually, while others took part as members of student teams, organizations and theme houses such as the Community Service House and Beta Sigma.

“It’s a great opportunity for our team to do something together off the court as well as to give back to the community that supports us all season,” says Hobart tennis player Michael Fields ’15.

The Colleges host three Days of Service each year and each student begins his or her academic career at the Colleges with an Orientation Day of Service.  Densocko has participated in a number of Days of Service as a volunteer and a site leader. She has continued her service efforts by working to organize volunteers for the Boys and Girls Club and will this year participate in an Alternative Spring Break.

Drum Majors for Service are the helping hands who perform extraordinary everyday acts of service with reliability and commitment,” explains Katie Flowers, director of CCESL. “Aminata’s thoughtful contributions and compassionate action make our campus and extended community more vibrant. The reach of her positive peer influence will be long lasting.”

“Service is something I love to do. It is my way of getting back,” says Dansoko. “I believe that service makes one understand the world in multiple perspective. I love helping others, it brings me joy.”