On Sunday, October 31, over 100 first-years participated in Frosh Service Day, dedicating an afternoon to volunteer activities in and around Williamstown. The goal of this event was to encourage community service among first-years and to introduce them to some of the volunteer opportunities in the area.
Sponsored by the Lehman Community Service Council, the event sent students to eight different sites. Five did pumpkin painting and games at Berkshire Farm, a home for adolescent boys in Canaan, New York. Another five decorated the porch of Louison House, a homeless shelter. Others raked at Williamstown Elementary School and Linear Park.
Students in costume went to two nursing homes (Willowood and Sweetbrook) to visit residents, talk and play games. Another group held a party at the YMCA for the kids at Brayton Hill Apartments, a subsidized housing complex. Finally, about 40 students went trick-or-treating for canned goods, collecting two station wagons worth of food for the Berkshire Food Project and St. Patrick’s Food Pantry.
According to Debbie Ebert ’00, Lehman Council President, “It was wonderful to see so much enthusiasm from this freshman class. I overheard many people saying they hadn’t had a chance to see Williamstown outside of the Williams campus. I think the service day was an interesting experience for them because there are so many needs in the community that Williams students can easily miss seeing.”
Twice as many first-years participated in this year’s Frosh Service Day as did last year. The increase comes mostly from Lehman Council’s new system of entry representatives.
In previous years Lehman Council used posters and advertisements in Baxter to notify freshmen of Frosh Service Day. This year however, each entry had at least one Council representative who helped organize, plan and publicize the various activities.
The representative also reported to the entries and encouraged entry-mates to participate in the Service Day. Entry representatives and Lehman Council Board members met once a week for four weeks to plan and coordinate, and reps dedicated many hours to coordinate projects with the various organizations.
Reactions to the project was generally positive. Kristen Shapiro ’03, who went to Berkshire Farm, called the day “a wonderful experience,” and added, “I will probably get involved at the Berkshire Farm at some point because of it.”
Ebert said, “There was a lot of hard work going into the planning of the service day, and I think everyone was happy with the results.”
The Freshman Service Council will continue to work with the Lehman Council board throughout the year in planning projects that first-years and others can participate in.