More than 60 Harvard volunteers descended on the 80-year-old Cambridge Community Center Inc. (CCC) Saturday (Oct. 24) for a much-needed, daylong facelift.
The Harvard contingent — including 20 staff members from University Operations Services (UOS) and more than 40 graduate students from Harvard’s schools of education, law, medicine, public health, and the Kennedy School — painted, scrubbed, cleaned forgotten spaces, dumped old wood, and spruced up the grounds on a cold, rainy day.
By 9 a.m., the center, which provides a safe, nurturing environment for local children through after-school programs and summer camps, was brimming with activity. The effort, part of Harvard’s University-wide day of service, wrapped up a week’s activities, which ranged from lectures with altruistic alumni to volunteer opportunities.
“We’re here because we have so much, and we want to give back,” Margaret Park, a student at the Graduate School of Education, said in a room that was filled with students and staff scrubbing chairs and tables, painting walls, and varnishing wood.
The students brought ideas and talent too. Ed School student Kiana Jannesari designed a four-part mural of the seasons to enliven the main stairwell. The mural will be completed over the next month.
The CCC cleanup was one of six Harvard-sponsored service projects Saturday that drew more than 300 graduate students and Harvard community members to volunteer in Cambridge and Boston. The CCC is also one of the many organizations that Harvard faculty and staff can support through the Community Gifts Campaign, which launches next week.
Last summer UOS, located at 46 Blackstone St. less than two blocks from the CCC, decided to forge a partnership with the center. UOS staff provided building-repair support, and bought 40 backpacks for students, which were loaded with school supplies. They also connected the Center with UOS vendors, who provided much-needed materials, including a floor-burnishing machine, and more expertise.
“We want to be good neighbors,” said Mary Maloley, director of finance and administration for UOS. “Especially in these tough economic times, we wanted to reach out.”
“We are a community center that exists to serve the needs of the Riverside community and its children with direct service and provide opportunities for people to get involved, and that’s where Harvard came in,” said David Gibbs, CCC executive director.