Staff member cleaning room.

Staff member Dennis Alberto is working extra hours this week. Here, he cleans the Junior Common Room at Lowell House.

Photos by Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

House staff and volunteers roll up sleeves

3 min read

It’s all hands on deck to help students arrange travel, ship and store their stuff, and depart campus

Ten weeks of House traditions, crammed into one night.

That was the scene at Lowell House on Thursday, as Faculty Deans, House staff, and students took a break from frantic packing and travel planning and made the most of one of the last few days on campus. Residents came together for a greatest-hits version of traditional spring events, including tea outside, the Bacchanalia spring formal, and an impromptu performance of three songs from the (now canceled) Lowell House opera “Sweeney Todd.”

“The spirit of the evening was incredibly cathartic and important,” said Lowell House administrator Beth Terry. “The community interaction is so vital, and that’s what people focused on. There were a lot of tears, but also happiness, and gratitude. Of course it’s a negative [experience], but out of that comes incredible positivity between tutors, administrators, and students here. We in the Houses do what we can to make the students feel supported.”

Lowell House administrator Beth Terry helped students in their last days on campus.

Beth Terry.

In addition to navigating last-minute festivities, staff at the Houses were hard at work helping students sort, store, and ship belongings. Volunteers from across the University also pitched in to help with travel assistance, room-key drop-off, and library book returns. It was a scene repeated across the College and in the University’s dozen Schools, as staff and volunteers helped students pack, move out, and plan for an immediate future of distance learning.

Lowell was a microcosm. Brenda Messervy, a senior analyst at the Harvard Allston Land Company, and Elizadel Deauna, administrative coordinator for the Dean’s Office at Harvard College, were on hand in the Lowell dining hall to help students book travel home.

“As a mom, I couldn’t bear the idea” of not helping students get where they needed to go, said Messervy. “It’s an emotional time, and I knew I had to help.”

Leverett House roommates, Jessica Williams '20 (left) and Isabelle Haugh '20 were captains of spring sports teams that concluded before the season really got started. Williams captained sailing and Haugh captained softball.

Down the street at Leverett House, building manager Paul Hegarty expressed gratitude for staff volunteers who handed out packing supplies and directed students to shipping and storage stations in the Houses. Hegarty said the help he received was integral to making sure the move-out process went smoothly and gave him time to send critical updates to residents.

“We had to make everything as efficient as humanly possible, and everyone helped out,” said Hegarty, who has worked at Harvard for 18 years. “As we go, there are more problems that come up that need solutions. The most impressive thing to me was the alumni and volunteers from around the campus who showed up to help.”

Depositing a large box of books at a storage drop-off, Leverett resident Andrew Rao ’21 said that the staffers’ work made a difficult situation much more bearable.

“They’ve been helpful with updates, and helping us get all our supplies,” said Rao.