Project Outreach: HBS at Work!

As soon as I returned from Project Outreach on Saturday, April 6, I was in pain, but oh, it felt so good. After raking and bagging leaves and spreading mulch around a lawn for several hours with fellow section mates and partners from OB, my backache helped me realize that our efforts to help a local non-profit were tangible, observable and more importantly, fun!

On Saturday, nearly 200 HBS students, partners and staff woke up very early to participate in Project Outreach, an annual HBS community service event, organized by HBS Volunteers. Participants, grouped by section, went to eight local community organizations to paint, refurbish, landscape and clean their facilities. Sites included the William St. House, a Cambridge halfway house aimed at helping the mentally ill live on their own, a senior citizen housing complex in Dorchester, MA and Historic Brook Farm, once Nathaniel Hawthorne’s former home and now a part of the Massachusetts’s state park system.

The day started with a kick-off breakfast held in Hamilton Hall, where after fueling up on bagels and muffins, volunteers grabbed an Outreach shirt and a bagged lunch and headed out for a day of hard work and fun. Every year, Project Outreach is a fantastic way for members of the HBS community to become more actively involved in our local communities and at the end of the day, to admire the great work accomplished.

This year’s projects ranged from painting senior citizen apartments and transitional shelters to landscaping and planting at Brook Farm. At times, the various tasks appeared daunting, but HBS spirit persevered.

According to Fiona Stoner, Section NF volunteer representative who painted senior citizen apartments, “these were people’s homes we were talking about, and they were blissfully unaware of the fact that we were all complete amateurs in the home-decorating business. Nevertheless we applied ourselves and achieved admirably neat results, albeit at the expense of creating a huge mess, such that a good couple of extra hours had to be devoted at the end of the day to scrubbing paint off the floors.”

Marty Butler, ND volunteer representative, commented that the Brook Farm group of 40 volunteers, which included members of sections ND, NE and NH, partners and some dogs, planted rose bushes and cherry trees: “In typical type-A personality fashion, the projects that should have lasted until 3pm were completed by noon!”

Project Outreach, funded by corporate sponsorship, buys all necessary supplies and donates the supplies and the human manual labor to the local non-profit organizations selected as Project Outreach sites.

According to the event Co-Coordinator, Jenny Belknap, the donation of supplies, energy and enthusiasm were greatly appreciated. “Bill Knowlton, Assistant Director of CASPAR, Inc. Emergency Services Center (which provides shelter, food, clothing, medical assistance and social services to homeless men and women in Cambridge and Somerville) left the greatest message on my voice mail thanking HBS for an ‘incredible volunteer day.’ He reported that the ‘people were marvelous’ (Sections OA and OG). He was really moved – this message made my day!”

Many thanks to all of this year’s site coordinators and volunteers for donating their time and back muscles to a great day of fun and community service. Get your work gloves and Tylenol and be on the look out for Project Outreach 2003!