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Community Service Day

April 17, 2013

Girls Club pictureThe WPI community has a long tradition of helping neighbors and giving back to the community, and an event is coming up that will highlight this culture. On Saturday, students, alumni, and staff and faculty members (and their families) are welcome to join efforts for the third annual WPI Community Service Day, when the focus will be reviving local recreational areas.

Community Service Day has its roots in a decision three years ago to merge students’ community outreach efforts with those of alumni, staff, and faculty . Now the day involves the entire WPI community, with the goal offering a family-like experience for all ages. The offices of Alumni Relations and Student Activities joined forces to sponsor the event.

The projects have aimed at improving the City of Worcester —from rehabilitating affordable housing in the city, to cleaning up city parks, teaming with such agencies as the Worcester Housing Authority and Friends of Institute Park.

“We have partnerships with over 90 human service agencies in Worcester,” says Emily Perlow, director of student activities. “We reach out to those we know can accommodate large groups of volunteers, and work with them to identify projects that are going to meet a range of ages. We have some child-appropriate activities, and some that are appropriate for college students.”

This year’s projects include cleanup efforts in two neighborhood parks. At Institute Park, litter cleanup and brush removal will be the featured activities. The Newton Hill section of Elm Park will focus on litter cleanup and brush removal, as well, but more resources will go into the Newton Hill effort because of the scale of the job. The WPI community is partnering with city officials on the projects.

“This is our community and we want to be good neighbors,” says Peter Thomas, executive director of alumni relations. “Giving back to the community is one way of doing it. We get to rake leaves, paint, and, this year, clean up parks—alumni side by side with students. It’s a great interaction.”

In addition to the benefits of doing projects that help the community, there is also a significant benefit for students involved in the efforts. Community Service Day is an excellent opportunity to network with alumni and create the inroads for post-graduation employment.

“It is one of the best sources of connections, especially in today’s world in the technology age,” says Raj Patel, a member of the class of 2014. “I’ve met alumni who worked in high profile jobs, and they take a Saturday of their busy week to come out, hang out, have fun, and help the community. It’s a great bonding experience.”

Participation in the event exceeded 100 volunteers in each of the three years thus far, and the 2013 effort appears to be on the same track. The collaborators target potential volunteers by sending out mailings and email communications, but need WPI community members’ help in spreading the word.

“We usually start marketing to alumni in the winter,” says assistant director of alumni relations Maureen Maynard. “We ask alumni to use their connections through their networks to get more people involved in the event.”

Community Service Day is Saturday, April 20, 9:00am to noon. Following the community service efforts, the annual meeting for the WPI Alumni Association will be held, (including a boxed lunch.

To register for Community Service Day, click on the following link:

By Matt Stewart