Working to improve lives in Hanover and across the planet, the Dartmouth community has answered the Call to Serve by exceeding 250,000 hours of volunteer service in less than a year.
As part of the College’s 250th anniversary celebration, Dartmouth alumni, students, parents, faculty, and staff have given more than a quarter-million hours to nonprofit organizations and communities in 2019. Food shelves, literacy and education programs, health care services, and many other types of nonprofit organizations in 37 countries and all 50 states have benefited from the Call to Serve.
“The generous spirit of the Dartmouth family never ceases to amaze and inspire,” says Laurel Richie ’81, chair of the board of trustees. “Our community embraced the challenge to give 250,000 hours of service in this historic year and blew past that goal. What a joy to come together in a distinctly Dartmouth manner to make our communities, our nation, and our world happier and healthier.”
Dartmouth established the Call to Serve as a way to honor the College’s legacy of leadership in public service, placing an emphasis on giving back rather than simply looking back during this anniversary year. The initiative invited members of the Dartmouth community to donate their time in 2019 and to record their hours of service. (Service to Dartmouth does not count toward the year-long tally.)
Volunteers topped the Call to Serve target during the past week. To date, members of the Dartmouth community have donated more than 264,000 hours of service. With six weeks left in 2019, Dartmouth is encouraging members of the community to continue volunteering their time generously through the remainder of the year.
“It’s been heartwarming to participate in the Call to Serve and to see our community come together in such an extraordinary way in service to others,” says President Philip J. Hanlon ’77. “From teaching children to read to building homes for families in need, the work we’ve undertaken around the world has indeed changed lives, and I hope it will inspire others to join in the spirit of giving that has been part and parcel of the Dartmouth experience for the past 250 years.”
Students have accounted for nearly half of the year’s volunteer hours, and alumni more than one-third. Dartmouth parents have also stepped up, donating more than 5,000 hours of their time.
Volunteer service includes 40,000 hours given to education and literacy programs, 36,000 hours for health and wellness services, 18,000 hours of coaching for community sports teams, and 23,000 hours of board service at nonprofit organizations. Volunteer work included helping construct 17 Habitat for Humanity homes and preparing 600 backpacks filled with school supplies for the Upper Valley Haven and New York’s BronxWorks.
Trustee Emeritus John Replogle ’88, who first suggested incorporating service into the sestercentennial celebration, says he was elated with the success of the initiative.
“A Dartmouth education prepares us all for a life of purposeful leadership, and our tight-knit community has always been generous with our time and talent,” he says. “I’m delighted, and not the least bit surprised, that we’ve sailed past our lofty service goal.”
Students Lead the Way
Tracy Dustin-Eichler, director of the Dartmouth Center for Social Impact, says there has been a growing movement in student community engagement during the past three decades—partly due to students’ interest in making service-learning a component of their educational experience, as well as their desire to help others.
“For many of our students, service is just what they do because they believe that they can make an impact in the community and in the world,” says Dustin-Eichler. “The Call to Serve has shed a light on what already is a very strong culture of community engagement among Dartmouth students. By shining that light on one aspect of who we are as a community, there is real potential to inspire others at Dartmouth who may not have service as part of their daily lives.”
A Grateful Local Community
Upper Valley nonprofit organizations in particular have benefited from the Call to Serve. The five local organizations receiving the most hours of volunteer service are the Upper Valley Haven, American Red Cross, David’s House, Habitat for Humanity, and Cradles to Crayons.
Michael Redmond, executive director of the Upper Valley Haven, says his organization, which has 40 staff members, depends on the service of nearly 400 volunteers.
“At the Haven, we believe that nobody should be hungry, that nobody should be homeless. We’re fortunate that so many people step up to support us, including the Dartmouth community,” says Redmond. “Beyond the material support and work that volunteers bring to the Haven, it’s a visible and meaningful way to show our neighbors who rely on our services that they are not forgotten. When I visit with Dartmouth students, staff, and alums while they’re volunteering on our campus, I thank them for their service and their time. They’ll often respond they receive so much more than what they give.”