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Global Day of Service Set for April 17

Opportunities to reach out, and come together


Hundreds of alumni, faculty, staff, and students are expected to participate in BU’s inaugural Global Day of Service on April 17. Photo by Vernon Doucette

On April 17, hundreds of BU alumni, faculty, staff, and students will fan out, community by community, around the nation and the world. Their missions will be as disparate as their locales, from serving lunch to the homeless and helping build a home for the needy to clearing trails in state parks, volunteering at local food banks, even organizing a carnival.

It’s Boston University Alumni Association’s inaugural Global Day of Service. The association, along with individual alumni and the BU Community Service Center, has been organizing community service opportunities  from Boston to San Francisco, Sydney to Shanghai. So far, there are approximately 50 sites, among them the Greater Boston Food Bank, the Franklin Park Zoo, in Dorchester, Mass., the Downtown Women’s Center, in Los Angeles, Calif., and Blackwattle Bay, in Sydney, Australia.

Approximately 400 people have signed up to volunteer, and an additional 500 students are expected to participate locally, says Meg Umlas, executive director of alumni relations. She hopes volunteers will register by April 10, to give site organizers an idea of how many to expect.

“Our goal is for a few thousand members of the BU community to make a difference in our communities across the globe,” Umlas says.

Parul Vadehra (COM’03) (right) of New Delhi, India, is organizing a carnival for underprivileged children enrolled in the academic support program of her family’s charity, Love & Care. The nongovernmental organization offers health care, education, community development, youth, and female empowerment programs that benefit women and children in more than 80 urban slums and villages.

Vadehra says she’s expecting approximately 500 children at the carnival, which will feature free games, rides, a DJ, snacks, drinks, and ice cream.

“Keeping in mind that the format of BU’s Day of Service is to allow alumni to volunteer on a particular day, the need was to find a one-off project that could provide interesting volunteer opportunities,” says Vadehra. “I remember really enjoying annual carnivals growing up, and thought that it would be a great idea to hold one for the children of Love & Care. I hope the children will have a lot of fun.”

When Justin Latona (ENG’95) of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., heard about the Day of Service, he contacted the Miami-Dade Park and Recreation Department. He has organized a cleanup of a section of Crandon Park, in Key Biscayne.

“They’re dying for any type of volunteer work,” Latona says. “They had a huge frost. That cold snap came through and tore up the tree life quite a bit, and they have a lot of dead palm fronds around.”

Latona doesn’t anticipate too much heavy lifting. “One alum who’s coming is bringing his wife, his mother, and his two-year-old,” he says. “We’re planning on about three hours of work.”

Doug Wicks (COM’84) (right) is planning a similar event: trail maintenance at Forest Park, near downtown Portland, Ore. “This is one of the largest urban parks in the United States,” says Wicks, who visits with his family a couple of times a year. “It’s completely forested and just beautiful. We get a lot of rain here, so there’s a constant erosion problem.” The work will involve shoveling and raking trails and erecting barriers trailside.

The Day of Service is “a call to action for people to remember that there are things in our lives that touch us, that you may not come in contact with every day, but nonetheless are important,” Wicks says. “Forest Park is one of those things.”

The volunteer day offers another benefit: the opportunity for current students and alumni to work together.

“Many BU students have made service a regular part of their lives for several years,” says David Hollowell (ENG’69,’72, GSM’74), president of the Boston University Alumni Council. “I hope the Global Day of Service will become an annual event where alumni and students can come together at locations around the world.”

Umlas believes that many more volunteers will sign on between now and April 17. More sites may be added, she says, and the Web site is updated each Friday.

“This is the inaugural effort,” she adds, “but we know that great work will be done, connections will be made, and the BU community will have made a difference, not only in Boston, but in many regions across the world. Our hope is that it will grow every year.”

Register here to become part of Boston University Alumni Association’s Global Day of Service.

Cynthia K. Buccini can be reached at cbuccini@bu.edu.

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