My First HWS Day of Service

One of the great things that Hobart and William Smith Colleges is proud to talk about is the fact that we are the 8th ranked higher education institution in terms of community service. This seems like one of those cheesy talking points that colleges love to tout around to make parents love the school, but in actually means very little. Coming to HWS I thought about this fact, but I wasn’t exactly sold on it. I’ve always been a volunteer in my community, but I figured that every college has a service program that’s good enough, right?

What I was shocked to find is that we don’t just have a service program, but a real community and network of resources dedicated to it. I was amazed when I walked down to the Quad this past Saturday and saw all these students, actually excited to be giving up their Saturday afternoons to dedicate their time. Various clubs, fraternities, and groups of friends all pulled together to make a difference. I mean, of course the free t-shirts and pizza had something to do with the added enthusiasm of the moment, but after the pizza was gone and the work began, the passion remained amongst the student body. The Day of Service didn’t end up being something super nerdy like I figured it would be, but instead seemed to turn into a campus social event as well.

My friends and I went to work at a local community garden, where we helped pull weeds, rake leaves, fix a gravel pathway, and hang up Christmas lights. These are all activities I am pretty much used to helping with at home in the fall with my family, so the work came pretty naturally to me. And the people who ran the garden were just as kind and friendly as family too. They offered everything from cold iced coffee to solid life advice and positive encouragement.

I think a lot of college students seem to forget that Hobart and William Smith Colleges aren’t the only thing that is in our town of Geneva, and I was really grateful to be able to be involved with the local community in this way. It’s such a great feeling to know that I have made a difference in my still new local community and this, in turn, makes me feel more comfortable with the idea of interacting with it in the future. For me, I think that volunteering is like work, but in that instead of getting paid in money, you receive gratitude (which is something that can never be spent or lost). Plus, being able to do it with my friends made the work feel like not work at all. We were all talking and laughing the whole time, which I think made us more productive because we were able to help each other stay motivated too. I do think that is the key to why the HWS Day of Service is so successful here; because we make it less about the service and more about the day as a whole. The day is meant to encourage fun, but all while helping students to help others.