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Day of Service Celebrates 20 Years

by Cynthia L. McVey

In the early 1990s, an energetic group of students went to Boston for the annual City Year Serv-a-thon. They returned determined to host a similar event and, in the process, helped create a legacy of service and community partnership at HWS.

“They saw thousands of people from Boston gathered to give a day of service to the community, got back in the van to come home and said ‘We have to do this in Geneva,’” says Associate Dean of Hobart College David Mapstone ’93, who at the time was the coordinator of the Student Literacy Corps program on campus.

Modeled after Serve-a-thon, the first day of service took place on campus in 1994. At first, organizers held their breaths hoping volunteers would show. Students trickled onto the Quad and, before long, 500 people stood ready to serve.

Referred to in its early days as “Celebrate Service, Celebrate Geneva,” the program has grown to comprise four annual Days of Service, during which approximately 1,000 volunteers assist nearly 50 area organizations. The large-scale day of service events, now organized by the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning and led by Katie Flowers HON ’11, build excitement for individual service projects and introduce students to community partners with whom they will work throughout their four years.

The Colleges now partner with city government, neighborhood associations and other nonprofits to establish sites for each service day. The program has also expanded regionally. While most projects are completed within Geneva, some take place throughout Ontario and surrounding counties.