Approximately 475 volunteers donned umbrellas and raincoats to participate in Common Good Day Saturday. Registration showed a significant increase from last year's 430 volunteers, who also found themselves volunteering despite a heavy downpour.
Residents from five local towns?Brunswick, Bath, Freeport, Topsham, and Portland?participated alongside Bowdoin students, faculty members, staff, and alumni in 50 different projects on Saturday. They worked in cooperation with various organizations including the Tedford Shelter, Arts Are Elementary, and the Brunswick Parks and Recreation Department. Despite the inclement weather, only five projects were cancelled.
Each volunteer spent an average of three hours participating in his or her assigned project. In total, about 1,350 hours of community service were logged Saturday. If the organizations and agencies involved in the projects had paid people to complete the projects, they probably would have spent more than $20,000, according to Director of the Community Service Resource Center Susan Dorn.
Common Good Day helps inspire students to become actively involved in community service in the Brunswick area during college and after they leave Bowdoin, according to Dorn. She said the event allows Bowdoin students to become acquainted with various types of community service and volunteer organizations and introduces them to the many volunteer opportunities available to them throughout the year. Students often return to the same organizations to volunteer after Common Good Day.
There was a high level of student involvement in planning Common Good Day this year. The event was led by Megan MacLennan '07.
"What [was] great about this year [was] that almost all aspects of the day were organized by a student," Dorn said. "That speaks not only to the capabilities of Bowdoin students as a whole, but specifically to the outstanding job done by Megan."
Mark Swann '84, director of Preble Street Resource Center in Portland and a 2001 recipient of the Bowdoin Common Good Award, was the keynote speaker at this year's event. Swann's organization provides services to homeless and low-income people. The event also featured a live student band, the Day Jobs.
One of this year's many projects was the Family Arts Festival, held at Brunswick Junior High School. Several Bowdoin volunteers wearing red Common Good Day shirts were visible at the festival throughout the day.
"It was great to see more Bowdoin students than we expected turn out at the Family Arts Festival," Midcoast REACH Co-Chair Roger Fenn said. "They were really helpful."
Nancy Laitala, a retired art teacher and volunteer at the festival, agreed.
"The Bowdoin helpers had a great deal of enthusiasm for their work and were an inspiration to those around them," she said.