Snow present on Colby Cares Day
An unexpected April snow flurry was not enough to undo the months of preparation the Colby Volunteer Center (CVC) put into planning Colby Cares Day this past Saturday, April 17.
This year's Colby Cares Day, CVC's largest annual event, was the biggest manifestation of the event to date, with 23 sites scheduled to host volunteers and 360 student volunteers signed up to donate their time, an increase of over 50 percent from last year's 220 volunteers.
One of the reasons CVC recruited volunteers so successfully this year was due to its partnership with the Student Programming Board (SPB). SPB offered free spring concert tickets to every volunteer who showed up to help on Saturday. Sameera Anwar '10, director of CVC, said its partnership with SPB helped "heighten publicity and really make it a campus-wide thing"; it also helped "make sure everyone knows they have an opportunity to volunteer and make it easy for [students]."
Assistant Director and Events Coordinator of CVC Dana Roberts '12, who spearheaded the organization and execution of Colby Cares Day, said, "I think that collaboration is something that is really important. I think that is something that big groups on campus are trying to move toward. The more groups we have working on campus together, the better the events turn out."
Anwar said it was "great luck that [the spring concert] happened to be on the same day," and that the joint advertising campaign helped them reach "a wider network of people."
In addition to SPB's marketing help for Colby Cares Day, several campus groups, including the football team, hall staff and the Student Government Association, signed up to volunteer at sites as groups.
"It was exciting to see so many facets of community that can come together on one day like this," Anwar said.
Because of the weather, however, CVC had to make a last-minute decision on Friday afternoon to cancel all outdoor sites. Although several site coordinators decided to postpone their service trips, the Lower Programming Space of Pulver Pavilion (LoPo) was packed with volunteers ready to collect the lunches Dining Services packed for every participant at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning and head off to their sites.
Ricky Schwartz '11, who was scheduled to lead a trip to a local farm, Hart-to-Hart, before the site was cancelled due to the bad weather, said that his favorite part of the day was "seeing everyone up at 9 a.m. in Pulver signing in, when most Colby students go to bed late...that was really awesome." He added, "last year I got a sunburn; it was great to see so many people outside despite the weather this year."
Although the work at his site was cancelled, Schwartz, like all of the other volunteers, was still able to find a new site on Saturday morning at which to donate his time. "I think [CVC] did a phenomenal job rescheduling, given the amount of outdoor sites" they had originally scheduled, he said.
"I realized that my team is so strong and that makes me happy," Anwar said of CVC's response to the drastic weather change. She was also very impressed with how both the students and the volunteer coordinators at the individual sites responded.
Throughout the day, CVC members drove around to different sites to make sure everything was going well. "The Maine Children's Home was really inspiring for me," Anwar said. "[The volunteers] were all huddled in a room eating hot soup," and discussing not only their volunteer work for that day, but future volunteer efforts they wanted to participate in.
Schwartz said that the day accomplished a lot more than just the physical labor that students provided; the day helped strengthen the relationship between the College and the local Waterville community. "A lot of times, people believe Colby students live in a bubble, but the show of faith of all the students who participated in Colby Cares Day is a sign that we aren't in a bubble and people really care about helping the community," he said.
"I'm not sure how much Waterville and the general public know about the event, but as far as the individual site coordinators go, I think it meant a lot," Roberts said.
"They were all so thrilled and so impressed with how hard the Colby kids were working...every single site coordinator that I talked to was really thrilled."