Campus & Community

Boston Shines, thanks to many hands

3 min read

Harvard community joins together to spruce up Allston

Max Ritter is not yet 2 years old, but he’s already a veteran of helping Allston “shine.”

“I came with him last year and carried him in my backpack,” said his mother, Gabrielle Ritter, herself a veteran participant of the annual Boston Shines event. “It’s a beautiful day, and [he] may as well get a sense of community early, right?”

Gabrielle Ritter, a University and commercial leasing manager with Harvard Campus Services, was one of 75 volunteers from the Harvard community who turned out to pitch in and help their community on April 25. Now in its 12th year, Boston Shines is sponsored in part by Harvard Public Affairs and Communications (HPAC) and Harvard Real Estate Service (HRES). The citywide cleanup continued to attract folks from all over campus, including from Harvard athletics, Campus Services, Harvard Business School (HBS), Harvard Planning and Project Management  (HPPM), and the Harvard Innovation Lab.

The group met at the Harvard Allston Ed Portal to receive assignments that included everything from picking up trash to planting flowers, sweeping sidewalks, and even applying fresh coats of paint to public benches. At Smith Field, Max Ritter may have been one of the youngest volunteers, but he was still among the 25 who gathered trash and raked up leaves.

“He loves to rake,” confirmed his mother.

On the other side of the park, Berley McKenna, assistant property manager with Harvard Real Estate, helped a group spread mulch at the Smith Field playground.

“This is my fourth time at Boston Shines,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to get out of Cambridge, get in the sun, get in the community — we can say that we care, but showing that we care is so much better.”

“We are so pleased at how many folks came ready to volunteer,” said Annie Tomasini, director of Intergovernmental Relations at Harvard. “Boston Shines was a perfect way for us to help make our community a better place to live and work.”

A few blocks away, at the Honan-Allston Library, a team of volunteers got their hands dirty, raking leaves from a large copper beech tree in the children’s courtyard and weeding potted plants.

“If there are some small things we can do to help out and make a space better, why not?” asked Melissa Burton, Web technologist with HBS. “This is my first year participating in Boston Shines, and it’s great. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a nice thing to do.”

Nearby, Denis Collet, associate director of HBS Human Resources, said it was his third year showing up for Boston Shines.

“Part of what makes it such a great event is the camaraderie of working on an effort together,” he said. “It’s also an opportunity to connect with members of the Harvard community we otherwise wouldn’t interact with — and of course it’s an opportunity to give back to the community we work in.”