As the Classes of 2023 meet their fellow Herons and Statesmen, settle into their residence halls and prepare for the academic year, they are also getting to know their new home on the shores of Seneca Lake. Through the Colleges’ annual Day of Service event their first venture into the downtown and greater Geneva community introduced them to local nonprofits, churches, landmarks and community resources as citizens and volunteers.
“We are grateful to our Geneva and extended partners for hosting our students as they engage with and learn from contributing to the community. This weekend continues to set an important tone as our first-year students integrate into their new community,” says Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Katie Flowers. The Colleges have held a Day of Service in the community since 1994. This year, HWS celebrates the 20th year of including Day of Service in Orientation weekend programming.
Throughout the day, more than 540 students participated in the event, traveling to 18 locations in Geneva, Canandaigua, Lyons and Newark.
In 2017 and 2018, HWS held the No. 1 spot for service among top liberal arts institutions in Washington Monthly’s College Guide and Rankings. In the 2019 rankings, HWS were named No. 2 for service in the nation. Since 2005, the policy magazine has rated U.S. colleges and universities based on their contributions to society, taking into consideration social mobility, research and service.
“Every year, students are available when I need them to help keep the lakefront clean and spiffy,” says Geneva resident Timothy Jennings, who organizes a beach cleanup activity every year along Seneca Lake with Day of Service volunteers. “It helps make the lakefront a place where people like to come and visit.” Jennings also believes volunteering during their first weekend at the Colleges is a “superb” way for students to get to know their community.
The largest event was held in the Bristol Field House on campus in partnership with Rise Against Hunger, an international relief organization. More than 200 students came together to package a total of 30,000 meals. The volunteer-packaged meals are distributed to schools, hospitals and clinics in communities where people need them most.
On Exchange Street in Geneva, students partnered with the local NAACP chapter to distribute school supplies to students in the Geneva City School District, including backpacks, binders, rulers and other items needed to prepare them for academic success. Geneva’s NAACP President Lucille Mallard L.H.D. ’15 helps coordinate the event.
Students also helped clean, decorate and prepare North Street Elementary School for their academic year. For many students who will participate in service-learning placements for courses such as “Literacy” or “Teaching English as a Second Language,” or those who will work for the HWS Tutor Corps or America Reads, the service experience provides a first glimpse in to area youth education programs.
“Day of Service is really important, especially as new students, so we can get a feel for the community and begin to integrate ourselves,” says Gabriel McCollester ’23 from Rochester, Mass. “Giving back is a great way to get to know Geneva and to let Geneva get to know us.”
Other locations throughout the day included “Unification Day” in Gulvin Park, Geneva, BMX track setup in Newark, St. Peter’s Church, St. Francis- St. Stephen School, Seneca Lake Terrace, Lyons School District, Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park, Ontario County Justice Coalition, the Smith Opera House, Zion Lutheran Church and Geneva YMCA.
Click here to view Orientation 2019 coverage.