Yale Day of Service: 10 years of giving back and making a difference
Since its inception, Yale Day of Service has functioned as a celebration of service, of giving back to local communities, fostering year-round engagement, and connecting alumni in local towns around the world.
On May 12, Yale Day of Service will celebrate its milestone 10th year — and it promises to be bigger, better, and more impactful than ever before. There are more than 250 service sites registered and more than 3,500 volunteers are expected to take part, numbers that could grow further by month’s end.
Sign-up for Saturday’s official Day of Service closes at noon ET on Friday, May 11.
“Service is the rent we pay for living. It is the family foundation I inherited from the time of birth,” said Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman ’63 LL.B., who serves as honorary co-chair for this year’s Day of Service, along with former Secretary of State John Kerry ’66. “I hope we will have the largest Day of Service ever in the Yale community, at home and around the world. I also hope it will become an integral part of all of your lives, for those of you who participate.”
Contrary to its name, Day of Service is not about a single day. It commemorates ongoing service — on May 12, throughout the month, and all during the year — and serves as a catalyst to spark new service projects that will live long after 2018.
One such service site is Public School 124 in Manhattan’s Chinatown district. The school is named after Yung Wing, the first Chinese student to graduate from Yale, and a project was begun there during the inaugural Yale Day of Service in 2009. That initial one-day service project has turned into a year-round endeavor, with the Association of Asian-American Yale Alumni (AAAYA), an alumni shared-interest group, staying engaged to assist the school on a continuous basis, through mentoring, career workshops, and an in-process project to honor Yung’s legacy, among others.
The site leader for the AAAYA’s project is Rocky Chin ’71 M.C.P., making him one of many alumni giving back through Day of Service events. For while the Association of Yale Alumni organizes and administrates Day of Service, the site leaders are alumni, current students, university staff, and, for the first time in 2018, an admitted student.
The Day of Service regional director for Ohio, Betsy Sullivan ’74, ’76 M.A., plays in the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra with Archer Frodyma, who recently earned a spot in the Yale Class of 2022. After learning of Frodyma’s admission, Sullivan mentioned Yale Day of Service to her young counterpart, who was already active in community service at her high school. The two talked it over decided to co-lead an event at the Women’s Wellness Foundation in Cleveland.
“I couldn’t believe that even as a recently accepted student I was already able to get involved in service in the community through Yale and the Yale Alumni Association of Cleveland,” said Frodyma. “I feel so fortunate to be attending a university where alums and students alike are so invested in both their alma mater and giving back.”
The university community has also embraced Yale Day of Service. This year, President Peter Salovey ’86 Ph.D. is volunteering at New Haven Reads, a community resource center that promotes literacy; Vice President for Advancement Joan O’Neill has also committed to take part in a local Day of Service event; and three deans are giving of their time as well: Indy Burke of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies in Austin, Texas; and Ann Kurth ’90 M.S.N. of the School of Nursing and Sten Vermund of the School of Public Health in New Haven.
In fact, the Day of Service event being held at School of Nursing campus in West Haven currently has more than 110 volunteers, making it the largest in recorded Day of Service history. And the School of Public Health has turned its volunteer experience into a full-day affair, with a Day of Service project in the morning followed by a school event in the afternoon that features alumni, faculty, staff, and students.
“I am inspired by the extent to which Yale alumni serve their communities and people in need,” said Weili Cheng ’77, executive director of the AYA. “This day is a celebration of that service and an opportunity for our alumni, students, and the greater Yale family to come together and make a significant impact for the greater good.”
Yale Day of Service is a club-based program that is largely run through the local Yale clubs based in cities throughout the world. Bolstering those efforts, 10 to 12 shared-interest and identity groups also sponsor sites each year, including a special event held this past weekend at the West Haven Veterans Hospital sponsored by Yale Veterans.
At the West Haven VA event, Linda Schwartz ’84 M.S.N., ’98 Dr.P.H., a Vietnam veteran and former assistant secretary of veteran affairs for policy and planning under President Obama, was on hand to present a limited-edition Department of Defense lapel pin for any Vietnam-era veteran who served in uniform between 1955 and 1975.
“Yale has played a key role in shaping my commitment to public service, from the moment I stepped on campus and we were challenged to get involved and make a difference,” said former Secretary of State Kerry, himself a Vietnam veteran. “I am grateful for Yale’s deep tradition of public service — teaching each generation of students what we can do together as a community and how we can empower one another to make an impact.”