Volunteer Center revives Johnson Day after 50 years
Johnson Day was revived this year for the first time since the 1960s. This event brought students and Physical Plant Department (PPD) employees together to complete projects for the benefit of the College community on April 2. Members of the Colby Volunteer Center (CVC) organized the event, which was a tradition on the Hill from 1952 to 1964.
Richard Schwartz ‘11, an economics and environmental policy double major and one of the assistant directors of the CVC, said that he read about Johnson Day in a book on Colby history that he found in Miller Library and thought that it would be a terrific event to bring back to the Hill.
Johnson Day derives its name from former College President Franklin Winslow Johnson, who served the College from 1929 to 1942. Johnson oversaw the transplantation of campus to its current location on Mayflower Hill, which began during his presidency. After retiring as president, Johnson donated over $100,000 to the College, an amount that exceeded his salary during his time as school president. Johnson is the embodiment of what Johnson Day represents: giving back to the place from which he and so many others have benefited.
Johnson Day focuses on “building and beautifying” the aesthetic appearance of the campus. “Colby students do so much to volunteer in the greater Waterville community, in their hometowns and around the world,” Schwartz said, “but there are also a lot of opportunities to give back on Mayflower Hill, too.”
Last Saturday, 100 students separated into 12 teams, each led by a PPD employee. Within three hours the volunteers accomplished their goals on the Hill. They performed tasks such as clearing walkways of ice and snow, picking up trash and cigarette butts, painting the Alfond Apartments and Athletic Center and washing windows. After all their hard work, the volunteers convened in Dana dining hall to enjoy a meal and treat their PPD leader to lunch.
Johnson Day was an opportunity for students to foster their connections with PPD staff. “These folks do a tremendous amount of work to keep Colby beautiful every day, but many Colby students don’t see or know the time and the energy that goes into keeping the walkways shoveled and the hallways of our residence halls freshly painted,” Schwartz said.
It is uncertain whether Johnson Day will once again become an annual tradition on the Hill, but this year’s efforts benefited several members of the campus community. “We were told that together students did roughly two days of work, allowing PPD staffers to be able to stay home on Sunday instead of coming into work,” Schwartz said.