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Calling All Volunteers

Students: register for Global Day of Service by Thursday


More than 3,700 volunteers performed nearly 15,000 hours of service during last year’s inaugural Global Day of Service. Photo by Matt Kalinowski

On Saturday, April 16, Al Guinto (CAS’93) will spend his day preparing food for clients of Project Open Hand, a nonprofit that provides meals and nutrition information to seniors and to people living with serious illnesses in San Francisco and Alameda, Calif.

The same day, Parul Vadehra (COM’03), of New Delhi, India, will host a movie outing for 180 underprivileged children served by her family’s charity, Love & Care, and the nongovernmental organization Lok Kalyan Samiti.

Both will be among the thousands of BU alumni, students, families, and friends around the world participating in the Boston University second annual Global Day of Service. Last year, more than 3,700 volunteers performed nearly 15,000 hours of service in 43 cities. They served lunch to the homeless, helped build a home for the needy, cleared trails in state parks, and lent a hand at local food banks.

“We consider last year’s inaugural Global Day of Service a resounding success,” says Meg Umlas, executive director of alumni relations. “We were thrilled with the outcome, which now is the model for other alumni associations across the country.”

This year, the University has more than 100 sites lined up and hopes to engage 5,000 volunteers, from Boston to Portland, Ore., Shanghai, China, to Brussels, Belgium.

New this year, the University and the Peace Corps will celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary and its strong ties to BU, on Friday, April 15, from 4 to 7 p.m. in the BU Trustee Center, One Silber Way, ninth floor. The event will feature a video by the Peace Corps, world music performances by local musicians, and discussions with leaders and volunteers, including Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba (SPH’03), who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia from 1998 to 2000.

“BU has a lot of returned Peace Corps volunteers in its community,” says Kelly Cunningham, director of alumni communications and new media. “We’re a top Peace Corps feeder institution, and joining the Peace Corps is even part of the curriculum for some BU students. Our connection is an essential component of BU’s legacy of service, so we wanted to do something honoring that part of the tradition. And what better context than the Global Day of Service?”

Vadehra, who, along with Ed Westerman (CGS’66, COM’68), is cochair of the Global Day of Service, says the day is important to her because it brings the BU community together “for a common cause, for the benefit of society.”

Last year, Vadehra organized a carnival for children enrolled in the academic support program of Love & Care, a nongovernmental organization that offers health care, education, and other programs that benefit women and children in India’s urban slums and villages. This year, the children will see a Hindi-dubbed version of the film Ice Age 3.

“The most important thing to take away is that just a little effort on our parts can make such as big difference in the life of another,” says Vadehra,

Guinto, a San Francisco resident, serves on the board of Project Open Hand and says the organization is “near and dear to my heart.”

“Public service is important to me,” says Guinto, who works as a relationship manager for the firm SEI. “After leaving the Navy—I was a lieutenant and went through the Boston University NROTC program—I wanted to continue to serve my community. Project Open Hand is a great organization with a great mission.”

Here on campus, Bethany Guen (COM’09) will conduct a disaster relief drive, collecting funds and items for hygiene kits to ship to Japan. The donations will be sent to Heart to Heart International, which ships the kits from its distribution center in Kansas City.

“After watching the tsunami unfold in Japan and seeing images of the devastation, I think a lot of people were left feeling pretty helpless, myself included,” says Guen, who works for a nonprofit that serves the elderly in Boston. “In such a brief period of time, so many people lost everything.”

Guen says she will collect complete care kits, as well as items for the kits and monetary donations, on April 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the ground floor of Barnes & Noble at BU, 660 Beacon St. In addition, Development & Alumni Relations will collect items from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from April 11 to 15, at its seventh floor offices at 595 Commonwealth Ave. A list of kit items is here.

Westerman, principal of Westerman Consulting and a member of the College of General Studies Dean’s Advisory Board, says he hopes that recent world events will encourage the BU community to give back on April 16. And if they do, he hopes volunteers will come away with a sense that they have made a small contribution to making the world a better place.

“Folks associated with BU, no matter what their story or station in life, are privileged in a way that others are not,” says Westerman. “Hopefully, they will see this as a fulcrum to keep the ‘pay it forward’ ball rolling.”

The Boston University Global Day of Service is Saturday, April 16, at sites around the world. Student volunteers are asked to register by Thursday, April 7.

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

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