Johnnies Build Community
On Saturday, October 19 members of the college community gathered for the inaugural Day of Service, a college-wide event to give back to St. John’s and the communities where people live. Organized by the Annapolis and Santa Fe Alumni Offices, the event included alumni chapters in Santa Fe, Baltimore, and Annapolis.
Volunteers in Annapolis arrived early on a crisp autumn morning to beautify the historic campus grounds. The event also provided an opportunity for alumni, students, faculty, and staff to interact. Freshman Corell Kimer (A17), a former member of the Key Club, a national organization known for performing acts of community service, is one of several students who participated. Hailing from St. Petersburg, Florida, he came to St. John’s in part because of its small but vibrant community. “I thought there was a chance I would be out here working alongside my seminar tutor—and I am!” says Kimer.
Clad in orange-and-black St. John’s baseball hats, volunteers teamed up in pairs and in small groups to till soil, haul mulch, and plant flower bulbs. By the end of the morning, the group planted 500 daffodil bulbs in the flowerbed along Mellon Hall and transformed the overgrown area behind the Chancellor Johnson House—the newly dubbed White Oak Courtyard—into a beautifully manicured green space. Anthony Yoe (AGI93) says the Day of Service is “an opportunity to connect with the school—and to learn a little about gardening. When the daffodils bloom in spring 2015, I can come back to campus and say that I helped build that,” says Yoe.
In Santa Fe, Johnnies and their friends and families were able to volunteer at two different locations – the Santa Fe Community Farm and St. Elizabeth’s Shelter. Despite the freezing temperatures in Santa Fe that morning, 20 alumni and student volunteers arrived bright and early to give back to the community. At the Santa Fe Community Farm, an organization that provides fresh organic produce to those in need, volunteers helped clear the post-harvest field, remove drip lines, and organize and clean the storage areas in preparation for winter. At St. Elizabeth’s Shelter, an organization committed to assisting homeless individuals and families in the Santa Fe area, volunteers helped at two of the shelter’s locations. At its main location, volunteers sorted donated clothing and helped with cleaning. At its second location called “Casa Familia,” volunteers painted and cleaned the emergency shelter that serves as a temporary home for single women and families with children.
“I’m so glad I attended our Day of Service,” says Zoe Haskell (SF13); “at first I was nervous that I wouldn’t feel comfortable at the shelter, but to my surprise I found that I felt very at home. In fact, I’ve returned almost every Saturday morning since then, and I am very grateful to have met all the wonderful people who work and live there.”
Once the day of service was done, the Alumni Relations Director for Santa Fe, Sarah Palacios, treated volunteers to a meal of warm stew in order to allow students and alumni the opportunity to engage in conversation and share their experiences from the day.
Four Baltimore Johnnies—Nicole Fisher (A02), Laurie O’Connor (A02), Chapter leader Talley Kovacs (A01), and Annapolis Alumni Director Leo Pickens (A78)—spent the morning with the Living Classrooms Foundation at the Patterson Park Youth Sports and Education Center. The center is a city-wide resource for families to encourage physical activity, community connections, and healthy living serving primarily disadvantaged youth from area schools that did not previously have athletic facilities or programming. The volunteers helped prep the center for a family-football event and led a rousing game of Cal Ripken Quickball. “The event was very successful,” says Kovacs. “We look forward to having broader alumni chapter participation in years to come.”