To celebrate the college’s sesquicentennial, a group of Swarthmore alumni have organized a Collection of Service, a program designed to provide alumni with an opportunity to join together to participate in volunteer work across the country.
The Collection of Service is taking place in nine cities throughout the month of April: Denver, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Houston, Tucson, Oakland, Boston, Raleigh-Durham and San Francisco. Projects include working with Habitat for Humanity, volunteering at food banks across the country and cleaning up the Swarthmore Crum Woods.
The Collection was originally designed as a way to bring alumni together who may not be able to visit campus for the sesquicentennial.
“For many alums, the original decision to attend Swat was grounded in a sense that this was a community that looked beyond itself … a community of individuals that looked for their place in a larger, sometimes wounded, world and sought to make it a better place,” wrote Swarthmore Connection Chair George Telford ’84 in an email to the Phoenix. “Our Connections chairs were convinced that this was the way that most alums would most joyfully make a gift to Swarthmore, by making a gift to the communities that Swarthmore prepared them to inhabit and care for.”
Individual groups of college alumni have participated in Collections of Service before, but this event marks the first national movement of alumni. Projects were planned by alumni in different communities, such as Erin Trap ’92, who organizes alumni events for the Denver area.
“When the alumni office suggested a service event, I immediately thought of participating in a Habitat for Humanity build project,” said Trap. “I contacted the local chapter, and they agreed to take ten volunteers. My husband and I participated in the build on April 5, along with six other alums. It was a great event and drew in a couple of alums who haven’t participated in other events. Everyone who came had a great experience, and we had participants ranging from a recent 2013 grad to one who graduated in 1982.”
The Collection of Services will continue throughout the month of April and may become an annual tradition for Swarthmore alumni.
“This is our first time with an organized service event, and we definitely will do more,” said Trap. “The collection of service event was a great way to help in the community in a fun way that connected us with other alums.”