GSDM community leaves its mark during 2019 Global Days of Service

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Clad in red “BU Volunteers” T-shirts, jeans, and work gloves, the nine-person crew was hard at work.

Some hauled bright yellow buckets full of mulch up and down the rows of dirt while others gathered armfuls of hay from a wheelbarrow, spreading it on the ground. Easy chatter and the satisfying “clank!” of shovels mixed with the ambient sounds of the city. Above the volunteers’ heads, wispy clouds floated through a bright blue April sky.

April 11, 2019, was a far cry from a normal Thursday afternoon for most of these volunteers, who were staff members at the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine. Instead of sitting at their desks in the Fuller building, Office of Admissions, or on the third floor of 560 Harrison, they were working at Victory Programs’ Urban ReVision Farm as part of Boston University’s annual Global Days of Service (GDS).

Global Days of Service is a university-wide month of community service that encourages alumni, students, residents, faculty, staff, and their family and friends to give back to their local, national, and international communities. Throughout April, other red-shirted volunteers—many of them from the GSDM community—convened around the city and across the world to participate in the event.

As of April 25, about 145 members of the GSDM community had volunteered for a total of 410 hours at a variety of events.

“I’m grateful to all members of the GSDM community who gave back to our greater community during this year’s Global Day of Service event,” Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter said. “GSDM has a long and illustrious history of service, which was upheld by our faculty, staff, students, residents, and alumni this year.”

Kathy Lituri, oral health promotion director in the Department of Health Policy & Health Services Research, served a crucial role in the planning and organization of most events, often volunteering at the events herself.

“Thank you to all that volunteered this year—whether you served individually or with a group,” Lituri said. “Your involvement made Global Days of Service 2019 a success.”

In addition to the events offered by the university, GSDM’s Office of Global and Population Health organized 19 events for which the GSDM community could volunteer.

Lisa Collins, assistant director for the International Elective Exchange program, Office of Global and Population Health, was the team leader for the GSDM team that volunteered at the Urban ReVision Farm—and when she and her fellow volunteers arrived at the farm on April 11, they found there was plenty of work to be done.

Urban ReVision Farm is an innovative, community-based urban agriculture project that grows produce at two different sites in Dorchester. Despite its small size, the farm can produce up to 2,560 pounds of vegetables each growing season; this produce is distributed to families participating in Victory Programs’ housing programs and is sold at farmer’s markets in the area.

“The urban farm has a new director who is changing the structure of the beds to focus on getting higher yields of crops,” Collins said. “When we volunteered, they were just starting that process, and our job was to help with that restructuring,”

Volunteers put down mulch between the beds to help identify the walking paths between plant beds. They also dug new beds and spread hay on another part of the farm.

“It was a gratifying experience,” Collins said. “You could clearly see in the before and after photos, the progress we had made, and the people we helped were very impressed with the amount of work that we accomplished.”

Urban ReVision farm was just one of many sites that members of the GSDM community spent time volunteering at during Global Days of Service—from the Greater Boston Food Bank to the Pine Street Inn, they spent hours aiming to make the city of Boston a better place.

At Haley House, volunteers arrived at 5:30 a.m., while it was still dark, to cook meals for homeless or food-insecure men, while at the Greater Boston Food Bank, volunteers sorted through boxes of food. Members of the GSDM community donated blood, walked in the Relay for Life, hosted dental information events at Head Start Early Start—and while volunteers signed up to give back, they also benefited from the experience, too.

“I got to spend time with people I already know and like, as well as make connections with people I have only met a couple times,” Collins said about her time at Urban ReVision Farm. “We really felt like a team. I could not have asked for a better group of people to spend a day on the farm with.”

To see more photos from this year’s Global Days of Service events, click here.