For 19 years, the Bowdoin community has dedicated one day a year to head out en masse to volunteer in the area. This year, the McKeen Center for the Common Good assigned more than 500 volunteers to more than 50 work projects on Saturday afternoon. In addition to the students, staff, local alumni, and faculty who participate in Brunswick, alumni from all over join the tradition by doing community service in their home communities.
The day at Bowdoin always kicks off at a balloon-bedecked Farley Field House, where volunteers are treated to a musical performance and lunch with their group members. Students often form volunteer groups with friends, teammates, or house mates.
— Bowdoin Men’s Hockey (@bowdoinhockey) September 16, 2017
Photos by Savannah Simmons-Grover ’18
This year, the groups spent the afternoon working at many nearby organizations — including churches, libraries, schools, social service agencies, food pantries, and land trusts — doing both outdoor or indoor work. Here’s the complete list of organizations: American Association of University Women – Growstown School; Bowdoin Coastal Studies Center; Bowdoin Organic Garden; Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative; Brunswick’s Planning & Development Department; Brunswick United Methodist Church; Cancer Community Center; Cathance River Education Alliance; Chocolate Church Arts Center; College Guild; Community Financial Literacy; Cundy’s Harbor Library; Curtis Memorial Library; Environmental Health Strategy Center; Family Focus Early Learning Center; First Parish Church; Freeport Community Services; Freeport Conservation Trust; Georgetown Community Center; Good Shepherd Food Bank; Goodwill of Northern New England; Habitat for Humanity/ 7 Rivers Maine; Harpswell Heritage Land Trust; Kennebec Estuary Land Trust; Maine Audubon Society; Maine Conservation Corps; Maine Housing and Building Materials Exchange; Merrymeeting Adult Education; Merrymeeting Gleaners; Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program; Orr’s Island Library; Partners for World Health; Pejepscot Historical Society; Phippsburg Land Trust; Portland Housing Authority; Preble Street; Riverview Foundation; Ronald McDonald House Portland; Seeds of Independence; Morris Farm Trust; Topsham Public Library; Town of Harpswell; Unitarian Universal Church of Brunswick; United Way of Mid Coast Maine; Volunteers of America Northern New England; Wolfe’s Neck Farm; and Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park.
Sarah Austin ’21 signed up for Common Good Day with her house floor. Her group spent the day helping out at Riverview Martial Arts, a martial arts school in Topsham. She describes her day below.
“The group of first years, led by [Riverview staff] Abby and Rex, began the warm afternoon with a casual welcome at Riverview, sipping cider and munching on donuts in preparation for the day ahead. Rex explained the goal of the day: to begin creating a Zen garden behind the martial arts building for all ages. Splitting into three smaller groups, the first years combined efforts to carry sand and large rocks to the location of the small meditative garden. Students sifted and raked the sand and arranged the rocks to form a closed garden.
By the time the basics of the Zen garden were laid out, it was 3:30 p.m. and students and proctors, along with Abby and Rex, were tired from the heat, but not quite ready to end the day. The two martial arts instructors briefly explained some techniques of martial arts and let Bowdoin students try out some outdoor equipment behind the indoor center. Students were eager to try things out, the majority being unaccustomed to the martial arts.
To cap off the day of work on the Zen garden, Abby and Rex led the group on a short hike on one of their well-maintained trails. Students carried loppers and small clippers to conduct a light clean-up.
Arjun Mehta ’21, from Los Angeles, Calif., reflected that the experience of working outdoors and exploring the meditative trails on the Riverview property was a nice way to ‘get outside and off the Bowdoin campus and explore Maine.’ Bianca Boyd ’21 described the day as ‘fun and productive.’ Proctor Chris Hernandez ’18 expressed his desire to give back to the community considering all the privileges he felt he was given in attending Bowdoin College.”
Several of the participating organizations lit up their social media with pictures of the day.
— PHA Study Centers (@PHAStudyCenters) September 17, 2017
Photos below by Savannah Simmons-Grover ’18