BY EMILY BEARG
Saturday April 10, for the second year running, an estimated 150 Harvard Law students will disperse throughout the greater Boston area to do good works, and then reconvene on Jarvis Field for a celebration. Organized by HLCentral and the Student Public Interest Network (SPIN), Springfest Volunteer Day is sponsored by numerous student organizations that either contribute volunteers from their ranks or host a booth at the party. The Dean of Students Office supports the event financially.
According to Rita Bolt, Springfest Coordinator, the event began several years ago as a student organization fair where organizations both provided information and ran activities and games. “The volunteering aspect of the day only started last year,” she said. “It went so well last year that we are continuing it.”
“Springfest provides a true community building opportunity, not only among ourselves but also with the larger community beyond HLS,” Bolt added.
Amada Sonis, co-president of SPIN, commented that “I think it is a really great day – it’s at the end of the semester when everyone is really stressed out … and it’s something to remind you that there’s more out there than HLS.”
Alex Gordon has been in charge of coordinating the work sites, which range from the Charles River Clean Up (which is a part of a Boston Earth Day celebration) to the Committee to End Elder Homelessness.
Sites were chosen based on whether they were willing to support teams of students and whether or not students have had positive experiences volunteering there in the past, Bolt said.
“For the most part, the organizations have very specific activities for our volunteers and are very volunteer-dependent,” she added.
Gordon mentioned that activities range from providing support to community service institutions themselves, to direct contact with the homeless, elderly or battered women that specific organizations target.
The HLS student organizations sponsoring the worksites each agreed to send at least ten members to volunteer at a given site, which has been an efficient way of inducing students to sign up. “Students are very connected to their organizations,” Bolt said. “Most are willing to go out and volunteer with a group of students they know.”
In addition, the sponsoring student organizations tend to have some sort of a connection with the site they are working with. For example, the Environmental Law Society is sponsoring the Charles River Clean Up.
Other work sites include: the CASPAR Homeless Shelter (outside/inside cleaning), Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center (yard work), Pine Street Inn (kitchen prep work), Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House (yard work, paint prepping), Rebuilding Together, Haley House (paint stripping, house cleaning), What’s Up Community Outreach (handing out information), and Youth Mentoring (a more long term project organized by BLSA).
The afternoon celebration will include massage therapists for the tired volunteers, international food and beverages supplied by some of the international student organizations, free t-shirts, and henna tattoos by SALSA members. Some of the activities include trivial pursuit (sponsored by the Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review), and quizzes about the countries Direct Action visited over spring break, according to the party coordinator, Cathy Liu. Lincoln’s Inn will likely be supplying beer.
“The party is meant to reward for everyone for going out and volunteering, as well as a way to get together the Harvard Law community,” Liu said.