Alumni volunteerism touches communities and shows #BingPride
By Steve Seepersaud
The elevator was taking a bit too long to make its way to the ground floor at the
YWCA in downtown Binghamton. After waiting for what seemed like several minutes, the
staircase was an increasingly attractive option. The reward for heading up to the
fifth floor on foot – meeting happy volunteers willing to be photographed.
“Do people smile when they paint?” joked Kerry Stamp ’08, MPA ’09 as she applied a fresh, bright orange coat to an apartment door. Because the YWCA houses more than 60 women and children, as well as an early childhood center and women’s outreach program, the facility sees a great deal of use and needs constant TLC.
Stamp was one of nearly 50 alumni who led other graduates in community volunteer projects for the University’s second annual Alumni Global Day of Service, held April 15-17. The Alumni Association and Center for Civic Engagement introduced the event last year to demonstrate the power of alumni volunteerism.
The event was both local – as alumni engaged in service close to home – and global – as service took place around the nation and the world (we even had projects in Taiwan and Turkey). Nearly 800 graduates volunteered at site-led projects or independently. Projects included feeding the hungry, sprucing up green spaces, mentoring teenagers and cleaning animal shelters.
“It was a pleasure serving as a site leader,” Stamp said. “We had a diverse group of volunteers in our project. By coming together, even for a short period of time, we made a large impact in our community. I look forward to participating again.”
A group of alumni spent a warm, sunny morning, trying to rid Manhattan’s Central Park of unwanted visitors. Volunteers worked with the Central Park Conservancy to remove an invasive non-native plant called Lesser Celandine, and to cut weeds growing around trees.
“This project was an extremely humbling experience,” said co-site leader Paul Cho ’10, MS ’11. “We saw how much hard work goes on behind the scenes to ensure a clean environment at Central Park. Our dedication to beautifying the park is a true testament to how Binghamton University taught us to always give back to the community.”
At the various sites, volunteer teams were easy to spot as everyone was decked out in matching Binghamton green T-shirts bearing the Alumni Global Day of Service logo. It was a very visible symbol of #BingPride, and the spirit was infectious.
“We were able to get so much accomplished in three hours. Our group had such a great time, and we didn’t want to leave the pantry. I am a very proud Binghamton grad today!” said Robert Pitkofsky ’98, who led a project at People to People in which alumni assembled nearly 200 food packages for the hungry in Rockland County, N.Y.
Several projects focused on creating nicer homes for our furry friends. Volunteers showed green thumbs in addition to green shirts, revitalizing the grounds at the SPCA of Westchester facility in Briarcliff Manor.
“While we were cleaning and planting, we mingled with the animals and saw potential adopters making the important selection of a new four-legged family member,” said Lisa Abbott, MBA ’93, Alumni Association secretary and chair of the association’s Volunteer Engagement Committee. “I had such pride knowing that, through our contributions, we were able to make the [adoption] experience more appealing.”
Steve Kahn ’91, Alumni Association board member, and chair of the Alumni Global Day of Service subcommittee, led a beautification project at Long Island National Cemetery. He said his entire team of more than 40 volunteers is interested in serving together at another project next spring.
“This year’s Alumni Global Day of Service truly lived up to my expectations of Binghamton University awareness, community service and alumni involvement,” Kahn said. “The projects were amazing and the alumni participation figures were outstanding.”
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