Call to Service encourages community service

by Anne George | 3/1/19 3:15am

Dartmouth community members now have the opportunity to publicly record their volunteering hours. Through the Call to Serve, a year-long initiative that asks the Dartmouth community to contribute a collective 250,000 hours of public service, the Alumni Council hopes to prove that universities can be at the heart of change. Participants can choose to volunteer at projects located near them and log their service hours through the Call to Serve website. 

By Feb. 28, a total of 18,084 hours were logged, with 59 percent of those hours attributed to students, 35 percent to alumni and six percent to faculty, staff and families.

Vice president for alumni relations Cheryl Bascomb ’82 credited trustee emeritus John Replogle ’88 with encouraging the College’s 250th anniversary committee to incorporate a service project into the celebration. Bascomb said that the Call to Lead campaign — which aims to raise $3 billion in gifts and commitments from the Dartmouth community— “allowed [the Alumni Council] to establish what we want Dartmouth to be, but the Call to Serve reflects what we are on the world.”

Center for Social Impact director Tracy Dustin-Eichler said that students have been logging their mentoring programs, unpaid off-term internships and Social Impact Practicums — which tie community-based projects with certain classes — as part of their Call to Serve hours.

“We educate Dartmouth students about how to be transformative leaders and how to address social issues through volunteerism,” Dustin-Eichler said. “It is exciting for us to contextualize the work our students are doing within a broader emphasis and focus on social impact work across the community. They are one piece within a strong and broad vibrant community that is making change every day.” 

Dustin-Eichler added that service is happening outside the Center for Social Impact through house communities, athletic teams, Greek life and organizations and encourages them to begin working with the Alumni Council. 

The Call to Serve initiative is an expansion upon the annual Alumni Day of Service, which has been an attempt to encourage alumni, as well as their friends and families, to volunteer for communities and strengthen the alumni network, according to Alumni Leadership Office associate director Meaghan Ramsden.

This year, the Alumni Day of Service will be on May 4 and will feature up to 50 projects around the country. Alumni Leadership Office coordinator Amberlee Barbagallo, who is organizing these projects, added that part of the projects’ appeal to alumni is that they can be a low-pressure way of networking. 

“It is a great way for people who aren’t involved in [the alumni association] in more traditional ways to say, ‘I heard about this project and some people from my college are going to be there. I can’t really give a lot of money and can’t dedicate a ton of time to being on committees and boards, but I can spend four hours cleaning up a park,’” Barbagallo said.

The initiative is being advertised in class newsletters, and associate director of Class Activities Angela Stafford ’91 said that alumni are excited to showcase the impact they have already made.

“The Dartmouth community tends to be active in service anyway, so I think this is a way to feature and highlight how we contribute,” Stafford said. “Dartmouth alumni in particular tend to be competitive. I think the way they can log their hours and for everyone to see where they fit is appealing to their competitive nature.”

By the end of the year, both Bascomb and Alumni Relations deputy director Victoria Gonin said they hope the website will reflect the concrete ways Dartmouth alumni have worked to improve society.

“We want all the states to turn dark green,” Bascomb said. “Currently, we only have one country outside the United States participating in the initiative — Tanzania — so it would be great to have international activity as well. Let’s turn all the countries green.”

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