SAMMI BRAY ’25
Consistently, for over twenty years, Trinity College’s Director of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement Joe Barber has hosted an annual day of community wide service coined Do-It Day. Last fall however, faced with COVID-19 restrictions, Barber had no choice but to put the program on hold.
On Saturday, Sept. 11, with restrictions constantly changing, Do-It Day was once again possible. Still faced with the challenges of living in a pandemic, the program, which usually tackles around twenty worksites, was scaled back to sixteen sites. Still, hundreds of Trinity students were able to participate in serving the greater Hartford community. On Do-It Day, a team or large group of students and staff is assigned to one site and will volunteer there for the afternoon. There is a wide range of service activities, including cleaning up local parks and fields, mentoring young Hartford students, gardening, helping local food pantries, just to name a few. The event has created many strong relationships between Trinity College and local organizations and community members over the years.
Although the Trinity community was able to remain involved in the service day, Barber added that “some partners just weren’t ready to take volunteers and we understand that.” With limited work opportunities, he unfortunately had to turn down several volunteers. Barber, who spends several months in the summer planning the event and working to find partners, has had to turn down workers before due to the enthusiasm for the Do-It Day event shown by Trinity students.
The program is meant to be a beneficial partnership for both Trinity students and the worksites and local organizations which they visit, Barber shared. “We aren’t here to force ourselves on anyone. If a site does not have enough work to take volunteers one year, the opportunity to do so will be available for us in the next year.”
When Do-It Day was in its earlier stages years ago, Barber had over 700 student volunteers looking to help around Hartford. By 2015, the Do-It Day program was altered to take a new form as a partnership solely between the Trinity College athletic teams and P.R.I.D.E. (Promoting Respect for Inclusive Diversity in Education) leaders.
“It became a lot to manage, and we just couldn’t get work for everyone,” Barber shared, “It is a good team bonding experience, and the teams are really great about showing up.”
Student-athlete Maura Keary ’22, a senior on the softball team, volunteered at Hyland Park. Located right down the street from campus, the team worked together to clean two baseball fields, as well as scale back plant overgrowth surrounding batting cages.
“We are so lucky to have such nice facilities and the kids that play at these fields are our neighbors. It was a great feeling to team up and help out the surrounding community,” Keary shared. “We love to see the youth of Hartford participating in and playing sports, so our entire team really enjoyed volunteering at the park,” she added.
Most job sites were outdoors, allowing for participants to follow COVID-19 restrictions with greater ease and for sites to take as many workers as possible. While many helped with outdoor clean up, others went on hikes with or mentored youth groups, assisted in homeless shelters, or worked in gardens.
Barber, with the participation of coaches, community organizations, and his student team, matches teams based on how much help and what kind of work is needed. “The women’s squash team, for example, always helps out at Cinestudio,” Barber said. Barber emphasized that students form strong, long-term, and long-lasting connections with the communities they work with during their Do-It Day experiences. Overall, Trinty’s Do-It Day has once again proven to be a successful endeavor.