Alumni show #Bingpride, serve their communities
By Steve Seepersaud
At first glance from the driver's seat, it didn't look like a lot of garbage. But when volunteers left their cars and hiked the country roads of Maine, N.Y., the large orange trash bags filled in surprisingly quick fashion. And, then there were items that wouldn't fit in the bags, such as discarded tires and computer monitors. Although volunteers couldn't pick everything up in a span of two hours (who could?), they felt pride in coming together to make their community a little better.
Multiply this effort by 65 and you have the third annual Alumni Global Day of Service, which took place April 28-30. More than 800 volunteers participated in alumni-led and independent service projects during the weekend. Alumni and friends fed the hungry, spruced up parks, took care of furry friends and lent their hands to a variety of other projects. Volunteers made their presence felt in eight states, and projects also occurred in Malaysia and Madagascar.
Held each spring, this event brings Binghamton University alumni together both locally and globally. Alumni show #Bingpride as well as pride in their communities by volunteering in efforts they find meaningful, and where they can see and feel the impact. Alumni Global Day of Service shows the reach of the Binghamton network and collective power of volunteerism.
Steve Kahn '91, member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and chair of the Alumni Global Day of Service steering committee, led a beautification project for the second straight year at Long Island National Cemetery. His group helped clear the ground for nearly 260 headstones, in addition to mulching and cleaning the property.
"I told the foreman we wanted harder work than the prior year and, wow, did he deliver!" Kahn said. "The highlight for me was reliving stories from Binghamton with alumni and friends, while covered in sweat and dirt, and watching a group of good people working hard for a great cause."
Just down the road in Smithtown, N.Y., alumni volunteers prepared gardens and cleaned animal enclosures at Sweetbriar Nature Center, a nonprofit organization that offers natural science education to Long Islanders of all ages and engages in wildlife rehabilitation.
"While cleaning up the children's play area and the garden, it was interesting to share stories of our lives on campus, common threads and where everyone's lives have taken them," said site leader Carrie Kittenplan '97. "My goal was to organize a project that would show to my boys my love for, and continued connection to, Binghamton University and the importance of volunteering. I think we managed both."
Raymond Russolillo '80, past president of the Alumni Association, led a group of volunteers in serving food at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, the largest facility of its kind in Manhattan, serving nearly 1,000 lunches to the needy every day.
"Alumni Global Day of Service is one of the best engagement projects the Alumni Association ever devised," he said. "One of our volunteers was a woman about my age who had not been otherwise engaged in the past, but was intrigued by this project and very glad to participate. Another couple was so impressed with the soup kitchen that they'll continue volunteering there. These projects connect our alumni with each other and with other volunteers who want to better our communities. It's a win-win for all!"
Alumni in the Philadelphia region served at Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, processing and organizing donated items, and providing customer service.
"It was a unique and successful kick-off event for our new chapter," said site leader and chapter co-leader Jennifer Gay '01. "It allowed for alumni of all years to engage in dialogue about the project and exchange memories of years at Binghamton at the same time giving back to the community. It also helped to introduce new members and brainstorm more events for this summer."
In South Florida, home to another new chapter, Jennifer Siesel '92 and Sean Lebowitz '04 led a group of alumni in making blankets for people suffering with Alzheimer's and dementia. The project gave alumni a chance to network and become more aware of how they can respond to behaviors related to the two conditions.
"We had alumni from all areas represented, like College-in-the-Woods, Newing and Dickinson, Harpur College, the School of Management and Greek life," Siesel said. "It was wonderful to have a chance to network with the alumni, build camaraderie and truly make a difference to people living with Alzheimer’s disease right in our local community."
Binghamton-area projects were presented by Visions Federal Credit Union. Visions is a member-owned, nonprofit financial institution based in the Binghamton area, and values its community engagement, sponsoring a wide variety of local events each year and lending helping hands to a number of causes.
Photos from a number of Alumni Global Day of Service projects can be seen on the Alumni Association's Shutterfly site. Dates for the 2018 event will be announced in the fall.
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