IntroductionMore than ever, Dwight Hall at Yale is creating pathways…
On November 4, 2023, Dwight Hall held its annual Day of Service, with Yale students volunteering at local organizations and building deeper relationships with the New Haven community. This year marked the first Day of Service since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic (which significantly restricted in-person service activities), and was organized by Paola Flores Sanchez ’25, the Institutional Service Coordinator on Dwight Hall’s Student Executive Committee (ExComm).
“It has been a major goal of ExComm to revive Dwight Hall’s Day of Service, which was a tradition pre-COVID. In fact, this was the first one in three years,” explained William An ’24, ExComm’s Senior Co-Coordinator. “We were proud to be able to make it happen this year.”
Dwight Hall partnered with several community organizations, including New Haven Reads, CitySeed, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS), and the New Haven Tutoring Initiative. Departing from the traditional structure of Day of Service, this year Paola and ExComm worked with a few sites that could host many people, instead of many that could host only a handful of students each. “That way…if friend groups wanted to join, or if big groups wanted to do it together, we would have the capacity to be able to put them all together, further advertising the event [through friends talking to each other and spreading the word],” Paola explained.
For Catalina Mahe ’26, one of ExComm’s Communications Coordinators who participated in the Day of Service, the event was a great opportunity to connect with local service organizations. Catalina led a group of students that worked with IRIS, preparing for an upcoming food drive while simultaneously learning more about the work of the organization. “We learned from one of IRIS’s volunteer coordinators about their efforts to make food access more equitable in New Haven by doing weekly food drives and hosting a bigger drive in New Haven,” Catalina said. “It was a meaningful experience because it allowed us to both leave the Yale bubble and learn more about one of the most influential community organizations in New Haven.”
For Paola, these connections between students and non-Yale organizations are one of the most important goals of the Day of Service. “I want this to be an opportunity for students to collaborate with New Haven organizations, besides just connecting with them through student organizations,” Paola emphasized. “I hope this teaches students to find opportunities to network and find long-term volunteer service projects throughout their upcoming semesters.”
Looking forward, Paola and ExComm are excited to expand the Day of Service, inviting more students and organizations, and potentially making the event a competition between residential colleges who inspire the most students to participate.
The Day of Service, this year and beyond, is part of the Engage pillar of Dwight Hall’s programming model. By connecting students to local organizations, the event helps students engage with the community and forge long–lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.