The Ashuelot River now contains 23 fewer shopping carts than it did one week ago thanks to Keene State College’s first ever Community Service Day.
Of the KSC community, 192 students, faculty, and staff, donated their time last Friday to a number of projects planned in collaboration with KSC’s community partners. Such organizations included the Keene Family YMCA, AIDS Services for Monadnock Region, Cedarcrest Center, Monadnock Area Peer Support Agency, The Samaritans, Source to Sea Clean-up, The River Center, Beth-El Bible Church in Surry, and The Keene Community Kitchen.
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Annual Giving Director at the Alumni Center, Lori Zaniboni said, “I think it’s really important that we create a great relationship with the community and the town because the college is part of Keene as a whole. It’s great that we do things to support the community and they do the same for us. It’s a give and take relationship.”
Zaniboni spent the day with her colleagues at the Keene YMCA, where they washed bikes, mopped floors, and cleaned a playground.
Interim President Jay Kahn and his cabinet initiated Keene State Community Service Day. Kahn said they first collaborated in July, and decided to form a small leadership team to see if it was reasonable to bring the day into fruition by Fall Break Day.
After reviewing their findings in August, the cabinet decided to move forward.
A committee consisting of faculty, staff, and students formed and the broad mix of individuals reached out to their individual groups to spread the word.
Coordinator of Community Service for the campus Jessica Gagne-Cloutier said on top of the fact that the projects benefit the community, they serve as great networking opportunities for many students.
While working on a project students may be given the chance to meet and greet with faculty that they might not know, staff that they might never see, and community organizations.
This exposure could lead to possible references, internships, or other opportunities later on down the road.
The projects were scheduled in either two or four-hour blocks. Volunteers signed up online using the website VolunteerSpot.
This flexibility allowed participants to choose a project that suited their interests, and a time that fit their schedule. Volunteers met on the Young Student Center lawn to leave for the events as a group, either by foot or by vehicle depending on the projects proximity to campus. Projects spanned the day, beginning as early as 8 a.m.
The day ended back on the KSC Campus at 3:30 p.m., with free cupcakes and apple cider.
At the closing ceremony Interim President Jay Kahn gave a speech thanking everyone that participated, specifically Jessica Gagne-Cloutier, Barbara Hall, Jo Beth Mullens, and Becca Berkey from the Community Service Day Council for organizing the event.
Many students chose to get organizations they were associated with involved in Community Service Day. The lacrosse team, Circle K, Phi Mu Delta, Alpha Sigma Phi, Tau Kappa Epsilon, and the geography club all took part in projects.
Sophomore Samantha Gaudette took part in the Ashuelot River cleanup and helped remove the assortment of shopping carts that were submerged below the bike path bridge.
She said they removed multiple televisions, tires, couches, and bags of trash.
Although this was the first ever official KSC Community Service Day, Kahn, who also took part in the river cleanup, pointed out “community service is something that this campus engages in on a daily basis, we document over 144 different community partners in the Monadnock region that we work with on an annual basis.
Our students perform 75,000 dollars of community service during a year, based on our findings from 2011 and 2012, that has an estimated contributing value to the community of over two million dollars.”
Kahn also mentioned that those numbers don’t include students’ involvement with student teaching, studies done in cooperation with homeless shelters, four-credit service opportunities that students perform through loaded executive programs, and other college related initiatives that benefit the greater community.
“When we benchmark this campus and our students to other public liberal arts colleges, one of the ways that we exceed our peers is on the amount of community service provided by the campus, and how our students get that sense of value that community service is part of membership in a community,” Kahn said.
In his closing speech Kahn said he hopes the college decides to hold Community Service Day again next year, and summed up the experience with, “We all got down, and got dirty, and had fun, and thats what this day was supposed to be about.”
Eric Walker can be contacted at