NU Service Day brings students into community

October 23, 2012

The neigh­bor­hoods around campus, which can some­times feel a bit sleepy on a weekend morning, were bustling with activity Sat­urday when 442 stu­dents par­tic­i­pated in NU Ser­vice Day , an annual event that sup­ports com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tions across the city.

“It’s a great way to do some­thing good and rep­re­sent North­eastern in the com­mu­nity,” said Hannah Bialic, a freshmen bio­chem­istry major who vol­un­teered at the Sym­phony Road Com­mu­nity Garden in the Fenway neigh­bor­hood, where stu­dents helped with an annual autumn cleanup, removing weeds and garbage that had accu­mu­lated over the summer months.

Res­i­dents said the event pro­vided stu­dents and neigh­bors — many of whom often have lim­ited inter­ac­tion despite sharing close quar­ters — an oppor­tu­nity to get to know one another better and estab­lish new relationships.

Global Pathways student Yue Yu sorts donated books at Room to Grow.

“Get­ting stu­dents out here through an event like this does a lot to bridge the divide that some­times exists,” said Matt Phillips, who with his wife, Car­o­line, man­ages the garden. “Today we’re cleaning up trash and making friends at the same time.”

The ser­vice day, spon­sored by Northeastern’s Center of Com­mu­nity Ser­vice , saw 1,425 ser­vice hours com­pleted at 27 sites across the city, including United South End Set­tle­ments Rox­bury Prepara­tory Charter School St. Ambrose Family Shelter Room to Grow and People Making a Dif­fer­ence .

At Room to Grow — an orga­ni­za­tion that helps to enrich the lives of babies born into poverty through social sup­port and with donated items like clothing, toys and books — co-op student Olivia Gonsalves oversaw a team of volunteers sorting and organizing donations.

“A lot of our clients may not be able to shop on New­bury Street, but we want them to still have the best for their baby,” said Gon­salves, a fourth-​​year cul­tural anthro­pology major who worked Sat­urday helping vol­un­teers stock the shelves at Room to Grow’s Back Bay head­quar­ters, which simul­ta­ne­ously resem­bles a bou­tique and wel­coming social– ser­vices office.

Ann Nguyen, who is studying accounting through the Global Path­ways pro­gram, said volunteering at Room to Grow let her learn more about the community that exists beyond Northeastern’s borders.

Freshman nursing student Kayla Sullivan labels items in a classroom at the United South End Settlements Early Childhood Education space during NU Service Day.

“I got to know more about this orga­ni­za­tion,” Nguyen said, “and I’m working with a great team, enjoying myself very much.”

A few blocks away, a team of freshmen vol­un­teered at United South End Settlement’s Children’s Arts Centre and South End House, which houses the non­profit organization’s early child­hood edu­ca­tion center and after­school programs.

“This has been a great oppor­tu­nity to not just help out in the com­mu­nity, but to learn a lot about this orga­ni­za­tion and all the amazing work they do,” said freshman Kayla Sul­livan, a nursing major. “A day like this reminds you that you’re not just here at North­eastern — you’re part of this great community.”