Dwight Hall Hosts Service Project and Open House During 2023 Yale College Reunions

In late May and early June, Dwight Hall welcomed the classes of 1953, 1958, 1963, 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2013, and 2018 during the 2023 Yale College Reunions. Over the course of two weekends, alumni gathered in the Dwight Hall Library for an open house and participated in a drop-in service project hosted in the Samuel Priest Rose ’77 Social Justice Network Room, where they assembled personal care kits for distribution to members of the New Haven community experiencing homelessness. 

The open house brought together a wide range of alumni, their families, and current Dwight Hall students and staff. Alumni reminisced about their days at Dwight Hall, some even recognizing themselves in photos hanging in the Dwight Hall Library. Others recollected the previous General Secretaries that made their time at Dwight Hall special or recalled the founding of the Hall’s Social Justice Network. Some even contributed written notes to the Dwight Hall Time Capsule, which captures the stories and memories of Dwight Hall alumni. 

Alumni, students, and staff convene in the Dwight Hall Library for an open house during the first weekend of reunions.

A highlight of Dwight Hall’s reunion programming was the community service project organized by Johnny Scafidi ’01, Dwight Hall’s Director of Community Outreach and Engagement. Alumni and their families joined together to build personal care kits for distribution to community partner organizations, mutual aid associations, and outreach volunteers. 

The kits contained a variety of travel-sized health and hygiene items that are useful for people experiencing homelessness or temporary housing insecurity. (You may view the full list of items in the personal care kits and reflection prompts here.) 

“We are so grateful to those who took the time to assemble and personalize the kits during their reunion,” stated Johnny. “Dwight Hall works closely with community partners to ensure that the contents balance utility and portability. Recipients have expressed gratitude for the material items as well as the personalized messages of hope or artwork contained in each kit. One person even shared how the kit helped them feel ‘seen and valued’ during a time when they felt invisible to society at large.” 

Johnny also highlights that community feedback is very instructive. “Dwight Hall adapts the kits as we gain knowledge and awareness from the community. For example, we have replaced certain brands due to insufficient quality or because they are issued to those who have experience with the carceral state and may have the unintended consequence of retraumatizing a recipient.”

During the two reunion weekends, alumni and friends personalized and assembled 117 kits. They will be given to individuals experiencing homelessness in New Haven and may also be distributed to those reentering society after incarceration, newly arrived refugees and immigrants, and anyone experiencing temporary housing insecurity. 

The service project speaks to Dwight Hall’s ongoing effort to provide accessible service opportunities that promote deep reflection and engagement among volunteers and address real needs in the community. Being a drop-in event, the service project was designed to be efficient and readily available to alumni attending their reunions. At the same time, by contributing to the project, alumni were invited to reflect more deeply on questions like how health and personal hygiene exacerbate the feeling of invisibility that people experiencing homelessness often describe. 

Dwight Hall extends its gratitude to all alumni who visited during the open house and/or service project. If you were unable to attend yet would like to connect with the Hall, please reach out to barbara.mola@yale.edu to learn how you can get involved in the future!

About the Author