College’s United Way campaign teams up with “The Call to Serve”

by Emily Zhang | 11/8/19 2:00am

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This year, Dartmouth's United Way campaign seeks to raise $270,000.

by Sydney Gilman / The Dartmouth

Launched on Oct. 29, Dartmouth’s annual United Way fundraising campaign, which supports social service organizations in the Upper Valley, aims to raise $270,000 by Dec. 20 — a slight decrease from last year’s goal of $290,000. 

This year, the campaign is partnering with “The Call to Serve” initiative sponsored by the Alumni Relations office, which calls for 250,000 collective hours of service in 2019 from the Dartmouth community around the world in celebration of the College’s 250th anniversary. The partnership with the The Call to Serve is part of the College’s long-standing connection to Granite United Way; the College has worked with the organization for over 40 years and is the largest contributer in the Upper Valley.

“[Granite United Way’s] focus is to provide resources to vulnerable populations that cannot get them in any other way, where the government may not provide enough,” said Dartmouth United Way campaign co-chair Mimi Simpson. The money raised is distributed throughout Vermont and New Hampshire with a specific focus on education, income and health, according to Granite United Way’s website. 

Simpson said that donations to the campaign mainly come from individual Dartmouth employees, though some departments also make collective contributions in various ways. For instance, the athletics department donates $5,000 every year from the proceeds of the first home football game of the season. 

According to Dartmouth United Way campaign co-chair and wellness program manager Courtney Rotchford, there are two ways for Dartmouth community members to support the campaign: they can either make a monetary donation or volunteer at an organization partnered with United Way — or both. At the same time, the volunteer time-off policy for Dartmouth employees allows them one day of paid time off each year to perform volunteer services through organizations affiliated with United Way. 

Simpson said that although the campaign tried to reach out to students for participation as well, the timing of the campaign — the end of the fall term, overlapping with finals and winterim — makes it difficult to do so. 

Center for Social Impact director Tracy Dustin-Eichler, who is a member of the campaign steering committee, volunteered at the Dismas House in Hartford, VT, a nonprofit organization affiliated with United Way that provides transitional housing for formerly-incarcerated individuals to help them reintegrate into the community.

“It’s a really wonderful way to connect with the local community,” Dustin-Eichler said, “and to ensure our Upper Valley community is a place where people who are coming out of incarceration have the opportunity to be successful.”

In partnership with The Call to Serve, the United Way campaign also recommends people report the hours that they volunteer in United Way-affiliated organizations to The Call to Serve initiative. According to its website, The Call to Serve campaign has reached 97 percent of its 250,000-hour service goal so far, with 49 percent of hours contributed by students, 34 percent by alumni, nine percent by faculty and staff, and eight percent by parents and families.

Alumni Relations deputy director Victoria Gonin said students have contributed significantly to the campaign. The student hours, she said, include unpaid internships, among more traditional volunteering activities. 

Gonin also noted that the Alumni Relations office is sponsoring service projects at every major Dartmouth event, including Homecoming, reunions and tomorrow’s Dartmouth-Princeton football game at Yankee Stadium in New York City.

“We knew in our hearts that the Dartmouth community is very active in volunteerism, and the initiative enables us to see this from a quantitative perspective,” Gonin said.

Moreover, Gonin also thinks this effort is able to connect the Dartmouth community around the globe.

“I saw people logging in hours from Africa, Alaska, South Dakota, Switzerland, who might not have a lot of Dartmouth colleagues close by,” Gonin noted. “But they still feel connected back to Hanover through this initiative.”