Community Service Re-Imagined
Mr. Baker described one way in which the Community Service Board facilitated a local project this fall: “Community Action in Greenfield recommended that we talk to the Literacy Project (also in Greenfield), to see if they needed any student volunteers. They were not equipped to handle one of our large service teams, so I asked: ‘What do you need?’”
Due to the fact the Project’s state-funded budget had been almost completely slashed, the short answer was: supplies. Deerfield’s Community Service Board pulled together a fundraiser that generated $1200, and board members also solicited Hitchcock House, which donated boxes of notebooks, pens, pencils, and other supplies.
“When we delivered everything to the Literacy Project, the director was in tears,” said Mr. Baker. “We managed to fill their storage shelves, which were almost bare. For our students, it was eye-opening—to see a Literacy Project student smile at the sight of a pencil and comment, ‘Pencils are like gold.’”
“The local connection is very important,” said Miss Phillips. “The immediate effect we were able to have was amazing.” She added that as head of the Community Service Board, she is thankful for the dedicated group of students she works with, who remain committed to service projects week after week. “There is no shortage of need,” Miss Phillips commented. “But sometimes there is a shortage of help.”
At Deerfield, the opportunities to help are varied and plentiful; in addition to DAPP and co-curricular projects, there are blood drives, clothing drives, outdoor clean-up projects, and more. Many students are ongoing volunteers as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and sometimes service projects even take students as far away as the Dominican Republic, where they have teamed up with local people to build houses. Both on and off campus, students embrace the idea that service is not necessarily something to do for others but something to do with others, and that the combined efforts of many people build a community.
As president of the Community Service Board, Lucy Phillips is no stranger to service projects, but she also fulfills her on-campus obligations, such as working on the Dining Hall dish crew. Her thoughts on the job?
“It was so fun!”
Miss Phillips isn’t the only student to have grasped the concept that working for the Deerfield community can be energizing, enjoyable, and fulfilling. A whole brigade of students works in areas that don’t technically fall under the guise of “service,” including peer counselors, tutors, and tour guides, and they all contribute to the spirit of community on campus.
Last spring at the final School Meeting of the year, Bernie Baker asked all Big Brothers/Big Sisters to stand up; he asked anyone who had participated in co-curricular service to stand up; he asked those who had donated blood to stand up; and on and on. By the time he was done, there were only about fifteen people not standing. “I think that shows the strength of our community and our service program,” he said.••