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BU’s Volunteer Generation

Community Service Center hires new director, turns 20

In March, Lindsey Wyld (SED’07), the Community Service Center’s new programs and administration coordinator, traveled to New Orleans to take part in Alternative Spring Break. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Wyld

Although Lindsey Wyld graduates with a master’s degree this spring, she won’t be leaving Boston University anytime soon. Three months ago, she became programs and administration coordinator for the Community Service Center (CSC).

“It’s been really busy,” says Wyld (SED’07), “but it’s been great. I really enjoy working with the students, because they’re such a motivating force.”

Growing up, the former camp counselor and varsity lacrosse coach dreamed of one day working with young adults. “Although not really practical, I wanted to be a professional camp counselor,” she recalls with a laugh, “and working for the CSC isn’t that far of a stretch. I work with a terrific group of enthusiastic and energetic young people who are here because they want to be here, not because they have to be.” 

With 13 student-run service programs and a volunteer base of more than 1,500, the CSC contributes more than 75,000 hours of service annually in the Boston area and across the country. Programs address issues such as education, AIDS, the environment, homelessness, and hunger.

Last month, for example, Wyld and 12 undergraduates were among 23 BU groups that traveled to New Orleans to take part in the CSC’s Alternative Spring Break, a program that sends students across the United States to perform community service. Wyld’s group, along with 658 volunteers from other colleges, set up camp at an elementary school in the Upper Ninth Ward, a district heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“I think we were all kind of shocked at the amount of work that still needed to be done,” Wyld says. “Although it’s been a year and a half since the hurricane hit, New Orleans is still in shambles.”

Despite one student being bitten by a brown recluse spider and three students coming down with stomach flu, Wyld says, everyone had a great time. “During the first few days, we planted flowers and built a baseball diamond,” she recalls. “We also built bunk beds to accommodate additional volunteers. And on Friday we worked on a house. I got to caulk.”

Although Wyld is the CSC’s only full-time adult employee, she doesn’t feel like a manager. “I’d say I’m more of a mentor,” she says. “The students run the show, and I’m here to listen and advise.”   

Currently, Wyld’s responsibilities involve interviewing and hiring new student program managers for the 2007–2008 academic year. “Of the 25 students we have on staff now, we’re losing about 12,” she says. “There’s constant turnover.”

One of Wyld’s goals is to bring “new blood” into the CSC. “Of course, the students here are highly dedicated,” she says, “but I do worry, sometimes, that it can be a bit cliquey. I don’t want prospective volunteers to be intimidated by that.”

This year, the CSC turned 20, and Wyld is eagerly anticipating an anniversary reception for former and current volunteers, being held on Friday, May 18, during Commencement and Reunion Weekend.

“This will be an excellent opportunity for alumni to witness firsthand the impact the CSC has on the Boston community,” Wyld says. “I think they’ll be surprised at how much it’s grown over the past two decades.” 

A reception marking the 20th anniversary of the Community Service Center will take place on Friday, May 18, at 6 p.m. at 808 Commonwealth Ave. All former and current CSC volunteers, and all alumni, are invited to attend. The cost is $20 per person.

Vicky Waltz can be reached at vwaltz@bu.edu.