Thank You 2017 Water Squad Volunteers!

Posted on: September 27, 2017 Topics: activism

Our second year of Water Squad has come to a close, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather to be handing out water!

Water Squad was created last year for two important reasons: First, because it’s hot! Most of us know just how brutal the summer can be in Boston, and hydration is important for everybody. So there was a real, tangible need that we could fill. And secondly, because it’s critical for our school community to connect and engage with our neighbors on Albany Street. From the feedback we have received from our volunteers, it’s obvious how powerful participating in Water Squad can be in educating individuals about the challenges of those struggling with homelessness, substance abuse disorders, and mental health issues while also challenging potential bias and stigma around those issues. The success of the program led to the creation of the Life on Albany Committee, which is examining issues on Albany Street through the lens of service, education, and policy analysis.

Thanks to the dedication of our entire medical campus community including students, faculty, staff, and friends, we engaged more volunteers than ever. We also saw a big increase in repeat volunteers. Here’s how the 2017 Water Squad breaks down in numbers:

  • 71 volunteers participated in 107 opportunities to hand out water
  • We handed out 136 cases of water (that’s 3,264 bottles!)
  • 104 cases of water were donated by schools on the medical campus as well as community partners  

New students, people who hadn’t started classes yet and were completely new to campus, participated in Water Squad this summer with enthusiasm and passion. For many, they had seen their classmates in their red Activist Lab t-shirts interacting with their neighborhood either on the street or via social media. They joined without hesitation, showing that our volunteers are setting the expectations of what it means to be part of Boston University, defining a culture of action and inclusion. In fact, we saw such an increase in demand to participate — certainly a good problem to have — we ended up increasing the number of volunteers per day from two to three, an adjustment we will keep moving forward. One unexpected perk when participating in Water Squad is the networking opportunity that it provides. We got to watch first-year students meet with second years or sometimes faculty members and build mentoring relationships with a colleague they may never have connected. And the dedication of those volunteers left an impression. One woman braved the rain two weeks in a row. Decked out in boots and a raincoat, she refused to postpone due to such minor inconveniences as torrential rain.

One story that beautifully illustrates the connection we are building between our school community and our neighbors on Albany Street comes from an Activist Lab staff member. When walking to work one morning, Seth engaged in friendly conversation with a man walking in the same direction. When asked where he worked, Seth gestured to Talbot. The gentleman’s eyes lit up as he responded, “That’s where the water comes from!” We recognize Talbot as many things; a place of business, academia, and research. It’s heartening to hear that our neighborhood is including Water Squad in its definition of who we are as well.  

So lastly, the Activist Lab would like to say thank you. Thank you to all of you who donated your time to this simple, but incredibly important notion that being present to our neighbors is important. Thank you to those who dedicated resources to ensure the success of this program.

We couldn’t have done it without you and we look forward to seeing you next summer!

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