Caring for other brings benefits

by Chloe Jennings | 2/15/17 2:10am

For most Dartmouth students, Valentine’s Day elicits images of heart-shaped chocolates and cozy dinners at Pine. However, if Valentine’s Day is a day to care for others, then caring for others involves much more than just CVS cards and red roses. One way that Dartmouth students care for others is by volunteering with organizations that do outreach in the Upper Valley. By giving their time to these organizations, Dartmouth students give back to others, while fulfilling themselves.

Brad Hubsch ’19 described his experience with OLE, or Outdoor Leadership Experience, a volunteer organization through which Dartmouth students lead outdoor trips for local middle school students. As Hubsch explained, a group of about four Dartmouth students visit the Indian River School in Canaan, New Hampshire each week. The outdoor trips that these students lead range anywhere from apple picking to sledding to backpacking. For Hubsch, volunteering for OLE is a form of stress release.

“When you go out there and volunteer, you really have no choice but just to forget about all your stress from school and just enjoy your time with these kids,” Hubsch said. “Because they’re kids, they say the first thing that comes to their head all the time, so I’ve had crazy real conversations with these kids about family and sickness and loss — it’s kind of profound.”

Hubsch said that the weekly OLE trips provide a healthy break for the middle school students as well. Because the students are from the surrounding area, they have already done many of the activities that OLE plans for them.

However, as Hubsch said, “It’s not exactly the activity that they get out of it, but it’s more the environment and the bond[ing].”

DREAM, which stands for Directing through Recreation, Education, Adventure and Mentoring, connects Dartmouth students with local kids. In DREAM, each mentor gets paired with a mentee, who comes from one of three nearby Vermont communities. However, in addition to the one-on-one mentoring, most DREAM activities occur in a group setting, which creates an even stronger community. Every Friday, mentors pick up their mentees from home and bring them to campus where they play wallball on the squash courts, soccer on the green or pool in Collis, said Milan Chuttani ’18, one of the co-chairs for the Hollow Drive community.

“Some kids look forward to this their entire week,” Chuttani said. “We’re a support system that the parents and kids really appreciate — they see us as role models.”

Another program that matches Dartmouth students with mentees from the Upper Valley is SIBS. For Margot Putnam ’19, SIBS is about interacting with kids from the Upper Valley, serving as a mentor and pushing these kids out of their comfort zones.

“Because I’m kind of distant from my mentee’s home life and school life, I can talk to her and give her advice about things that she might not be comfortable talking about with anyone else,” Putnam said.

For many Dartmouth students, volunteering is a way of taking care of others, and by extension, taking care of themselves. By giving to others, many volunteers find that they inadvertently gain from the broadened perspective and interpersonal bonds that volunteering provides.

“I probably get more out of it from them than they do from me,” Hubsch said.