Welcome Weekend Day of Service allows incoming students to give back to community

More than 2,000 first-year University of Maine students are expected to volunteer for community projects as part of the eighth annual Welcome Weekend Day of Service on Saturday, Aug. 26.

The Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism coordinates the Welcome Weekend Day of Service to provide opportunities for new students to learn about the community and classmates, all while giving back.

Lisa Morin, coordinator of the Bodwell Center, says community service is an important part of UMaine’s culture, and the Day of Service projects demonstrate how volunteering can enhance the UMaine experience.

Led by 170 UMaine students, faculty and staff, first-year students will participate in more than 60 local, regional and international service projects on and off campus.

In addition to providing valuable assistance to community organizations, the projects also offer time for students to bond with others in their residence hall, Morin says.

This year’s projects include:

  • Grounds work at Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Alton, Leonard’s Mills/Maine Forest and Logging Museum in Bradley, Orono Land Trust, and Bangor Land Trust
  • Cleanup of the UMaine bike paths, downtown Orono, Bangor Homeless Shelter, Old Town-Orono YMCA, and Harold Alfond Sports Arena and Stadium
  • Gardening at Rogers Farm in Old Town, Penobscot Job Corps Center in Bangor, and community gardens in Orono, Hermon and Alton
  • Playground maintenance and cleaning at schools in Bangor and Old Town
  • Cooking casseroles and cleaning at the Ronald McDonald House in Bangor
  • Visiting with veterans and cleaning up gardens at Maine Veterans’ Home in Bangor
  • Washing and restocking Down East Emergency Medical Institute (DEEMI) vehicles in Orono
  • Stacking firewood and cleaning at Food AND Medicine in Brewer
  • Creating pet toys for local animal shelters and fleece tie blankets for children who are homeless or in foster care
  • Writing greeting cards and letters of encouragement to soldiers
  • Packing meal, birthday, hygiene and school kits

Morin says some organizations, such as Hirundo, Maine Forest and Logging Museum, and the Old Town-Orono YMCA, are visited annually, while new venues are being added. Additions this year include assisting the Blue School in Bangor with a thorough cleanup and sorting costumes at Penobscot Theatre Co.

“Finding enough work for 30–35 people for two hours can be difficult for many of our small, local nonprofits, but the extra hands can be very valuable,” Morin says. “We are grateful to all of these organizations for hosting our students and giving them a taste of the joys of giving back, and we are grateful to all of our students for making such an enormous contribution to our community.”

Last year, approximately 2,100 first-year students volunteered for nearly 65 projects and logged 6,825 hours of service.

UMaine was one of 240 colleges and universities in the United States selected to receive the 2015 Community Engagement Classification of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The classification, which is valid until 2025, recognizes colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement.

The Day of Service culminates with the President’s annual Dinner on the Mall from 5–6:30 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the dinner will be held in the Harold Alfond Sports Arena. Following the dinner, the Traditions Ceremony and Class Picture will be on Morse Field, Alfond Stadium.

More information about the Welcome Weekend Day of Service is available on the Bodwell Center website or by calling Morin at 581.4194.