More than 800 Regis College students, faculty, and staff participated in a day of service on Thursday, Sept. 29 to recognize Founders’ Day, which marks the anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Boston on October 2, 1873.
“At Regis, we encourage our students to live out the mission of the Sisters of Saint Joseph by serving others in need,” said Regis College President Antoinette M. Hays, PhD, RN. “Now more than ever the world needs the compassion and values instilled in Regis students by the Sisters, such as welcoming all without distinction, peaceful resolution of conflict, and care for the Earth. Founders’ Day is a way to honor the values of those that founded Regis and is a way in which our mission is manifested through selfless acts that benefit those in the greatest of need.”
After a morning spent volunteering at sites throughout greater Boston, Judith Heumann, a life-long activist for people with disabilities, shared her inspiring story via pre-recorded video and encouraged Regis students to be change agents and the importance of networking. “I believe it’s very important for people to see themselves as agents of change. It’s important for people to tell our stories.” She encouraged advocating for disability rights within the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Heumann’s memoir, Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist, was published by Beacon Press in 2020. She is also featured in Netflix’s CRIP Camp: A Disability Revolution, the 2020 award winning, Oscar-nominated documentary film.
Regis students, faculty and staff began the day gathering on the campus quad where Sister Mary L. Murphy, CSJ, shared remarks about the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston who defied all odds by founding a college for students seeking a Catholic higher education experience, noting “we are all better people because we know Regis College.” Sister Mary also highlighted the late Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain whose life was dedicated to service.
In addition to service sites throughout Greater Boston, over 50 members from Regis’ online community participated from as far away as Germany, Utah, and Arizona by volunteering in their local communities, broadening the outreach of the Regis College mission.
Dozens of volunteers re-routed an existing trail segment to higher ground and retired a wet, unsustainable segment and cleaned out water bars to improve the drainage on select trails in the Highland Forest in Weston, Mass. “Weston Forest and Trail Association, which maintains the trail system in Weston, thanks all of the Founder's Day volunteers for keeping the woods and trails behind the Regis campus in good shape. With picks and shovels in hand, Regis volunteers dug water bars across one of Highland Forest's most important fire roads used by walkers, bikers, equestrians, and emergency vehicles that need to get into the interior of forest,” said association president Joel Angiolillo.
Students and employees assisted with general yard work and property clean-up at BINA Farm in Lexington. At Land’s Sake, a non-profit in Weston that supports environmental education and food donation programs, volunteers weeded, pruned, and prepared garden beds. A group cleaned up a camp for the YMCA in Waltham.
Other students gathered on campus to write letters to active military and veterans, then added the letter to a donated book for Operation Paperback. More than 50 boxes were packed with over 460 books being sent to servicemen and women. Peter Agbasi ‘24 noted that “hopefully on their free time they can read and have a good time.”
Volunteers also sorted donations and created donation bags for the Open Table food pantry and delivery program. Donated supplies were assembled for Bethany Hill Place Children’s Center in Framingham. And letters of encouragement were written to caregiving youths across the country through the American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY). At several Catholic Charities of Boston-run shelters throughout Greater Boston, Regis volunteers helped to organize and clean the facilities. At Cradles to Crayons, volunteers sorted donated children’s clothing, and at St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children, a group re-painted a parking lot. For the Special Olympics, volunteers built boxes and filled them with items for partner organizations.
Others who stayed on campus helped sort stamps at the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History, participated in a field day for our youngest students at the Children’s Center led by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and utilized the Nutrition program’s kitchen to bake bread for Spread the Bread, a foundation dedicated to offering hope, inspiration, and gratitude to first responders, schools, businesses and churches. They delivered bread to Waltham fire department, and Boston fire and police departments.
Several dozen others gathered on campus in Regis’ College Hall Foyer to create blessing blankets for the Community Day Center in Waltham to help keep the chronically homeless warm during winter. First-year student Juliana Price reflected that “it feels great to know they will put the blankets to good use especially during the cold winter months.” Others created dog toys for the Worcester Animal Rescue League. And centerpieces were made for the Bethany Hill Health Care Center in Framingham.
Volunteers worked on a comprehensive branding and communication plan for Lawrence Partnership, a nonprofit collaboration between local businesses and community organizations to aid in the economic development of Lawrence and the education of underrepresented populations.
Volunteers at Community Servings in Jamaica Plain helped prepare and package meals to individuals and families throughout Massachusetts living with critical and chronic illnesses. At the Greater Boston Food Bank, volunteers sorted donated goods.
Students, faculty, and staff learned about the therapeutic use of horticulture by engaging in on-campus activities including planting flowers and plants around campus. Students and faculty in the Occupational Therapy program repainted the handicapped parking symbols around campus.
Glee Singers performed on the Quad for all of the service volunteers during a community-wide lunch. Kindness rocks were painted to promote random acts of kindness around campus.