Today marks a significant day in the Springfield College calendar, a day when we try to walk the walk in terms of our mission of “leadership in service to humanity.” It is the 16th-annual Humanics in Action Day.
Students, faculty, staff and administrators are expected to show up in large numbers to participate in a wide range of volunteer projects across the city of Springfield.
Many things have changed about this day over the years. The first Humanics in Action Day took place on September 10, 1998, and was co-initiated by the student leaders of New Student Orientation and Distinguished Humanics Professor, Peter Polito. The founders prepared a way for the Springfield College community to reach out to the city of Springfield and unite by working on service projects.
When Humanics in Action Day first started, most of the projects were clean-up tasks right around the campus. Students ultimately desired a more complete effort.
With an increase in budget and some transportation, Humanics in Action Day began adding projects at local public schools and agencies. This expansion led to the entire day of classes being canceled in favor of the service.
“With the changes, I think more people started to volunteer,” said Charlene Elvers, the director of Student Volunteer Programs.
Each year, Humanics in Action Day features about 2,000 volunteers. Each are dispersed into different projects. Campus groups often band together: NSO groups, athletic teams, different clubs on campus, etc. A number of academic majors have taken to doing projects together as a bonding experience. This has included majors such as Sport Management, Athletic Training, Applied Exercise Science, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Rehabilitation and Disability Studies.
Elvers begins planning for the day back in April, trying to get sites together that need help.
“I send out letters and I call, and I send out emails to local agencies and schools,” she said. “So the preparation starts then with trying to get all the projects together.”
The planning process does not stop there. Ordering all of the supplies such as equipment, books, the lovely Humanics in Action Day T-shirts and water all are part of the process. Elvers and her team have to base everything they order off of the sites that are planned for that specific year.
This all continues to come together when the sites are all picked out and ready to go. The only thing missing are site leaders and the groups to accompany them.
Site leaders are often found through faculty or staff members, and also members of the Student Affairs Office. Another group that also volunteers as site leaders is the AmeriCorps program, due to the fact that they know the surrounding area and the services needed.
“It has been good to use them [AmeriCorps] because there are a lot of them. They help me not only as site leaders, but with the logistics of the day,” Elvers said.
This year, Springfield College students are going out to 27 public schools, doing projects such as book readings and college awareness programs. Many others will be doing clean-up projects for elderly neighbors.
“It seems like that list is growing every year. More [elderly] people are finding out about us, and that is great,” said Elvers.
Since Humanics in Action Day takes place early in the year, it can be used as a fun team builder within the different groups.
“It is really meant to be a kickoff of a year of service,” said Elvers.
And that is what Springfield is all about.