Help make a difference in your community—volunteer at your local food bank or participate in a clean-up in your town. Community service projects can be fun and rewarding ways to connect with alumnae who might enjoy giving back more than attending other club events. They also enhance Smith’s reputation in local communities. Alumnae can be asked to suggest an organization they already volunteer with for which they might be willing to organize a club’s volunteer time.

Choosing a Project

  • Short-term or one-time projects are more likely than long-term commitments to attract volunteers.
  • A program whose mission is to support women and girls or college access might be especially attractive.
  • Projects that include partners and kids might appeal to alums with families. (Inquire about a minimum age for children.)
  • Community service groups or book groups might complement a project with a book that focuses on service, such as Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder, or The American Way to Change: How National Service & Volunteers are Transforming America, by Shirley Sagawa ’83.

Some Ideas

Food Banks

Some clubs volunteer one or more times a year at food banks, where they sort or pack canned or fresh food for soup kitchens, shelters, families, schools or day-care centers. A day’s work can begin with a brunch or end with drinks to provide social time. Food donations can be requested at other club events.

Dress for Success

Dress for Success has affiliates around the country to which club members can donate clothing for use by disadvantaged female job-seekers.

Habitat for Humanity

Projects may include home building, trail clearing, knitting for homeless women or delivering cards made by school children to hospital patients.

Title I Schools

Since 1989, the Washington, D.C., club has had relationships with a Title I elementary school (majority low-income students) where 20 or more volunteers tutor individuals or read aloud to a class, helping to grow grade-level readers by the end of third grade. Alumnae are invited to bring school supplies to the club’s annual tea.

On The Rise

The Cambridge, MA, club has an ongoing relationship with On the Rise, a program for homeless women. They have collected socks and other necessities for clients; they invite donations at any club event. They also gathered 450 books in one month to create a library for this women’s shelter.

Girls’ Schools

Look for opportunities to collaborate with or co-sponsor an event with a girls’ school, with a group that benefits women or girls, or with an organization related to the subject area of a faculty speaker. These events also offer the opportunity to share admission materials with high school girls.

Sponsor Events and Lectures

An innovative example of an event comes from the Maine club, which co-sponsored a faculty lecture by Tom Litwin, the former director of the Clark Science Center at Smith, with Coastal Studies for Girls, a semester school for sophomores from around the country with an interest in marine science and leadership. His presentation, held at a public expeditionary learning high school in Portland where an alumna teaches science, was on climate change in the Bering Sea.