Knights First Day of Service unites students through volunteering

The spirit of service filled the campus on Saturday Sept. 9, as students participated in one of the year’s first Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development programs: Knights First Day of Service.

Participants first gathered in the MacVittie College Union Ballroom for snacks and a brief address presented by President Denise Battles. Student volunteers, 190 in total, were then split off into 13 groups for different service projects, each led by a GOLD mentor. 

Projects were spread throughout the campus. Some even required bus transportation to locations throughout the town. 

“Today is about giving back to the community,” GOLD mentor senior Sydney Ng said. “Life actually starts outside of your comfort zone, so just put yourself out there.”

Ng led a group of 10 students through the campus and the town to pick up trash from the ground, while biochemistry major junior Patrick Buckley led a group of six to set up flags in front of the Gazebo as a memorial for 9/11. Four of the flags specifically memorialized the four Geneseo alumni killed in the attacks, with 2,996 flags representing the total number of victims. 

“Knights First Day of Service is one of the greatest parts of Geneseo,” Buckley said.

After all projects were completed, each group convened at the Geneseo Interfaith Center for homemade chili. Associate Dean of Leadership and Service and GOLD founder Tom Matthews said that the GOLD program—open to anyone who wants to join—is unlike any other college leadership and volunteer group. 

“Anyone can do anything in the program with no prerequisites required,” Matthews said. 

GOLD holds many service programs throughout the year, including one on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and a week-long program called Livingston Cares. Students can sign up for these programs and events at any time during the year.

Like the freshman and transfer students, Coordinator of Student Leadership, Volunteerism and Service Garth Freeman also experienced the GOLD program for the first time at this event. In his first year in this position, Freeman was the backbone of this year’s Knights First Day of Service, which he organized and promoted. 

“This is an amazing way to start off the year here,” Freeman said.  

Knights First Day of Service acted as a perfect bridge between the campus and surrounding community, according to Freeman.

Before the event ended, attendees were asked to fill out evaluation forms, assessing the effectiveness of the program. In addition, participants were urged to provide any suggestions in regard to how to improve the event for next year. Not many complaints were to be had, however, from the attendants. 

“I was with a group of people I didn’t know and now after this I feel that I’m closer to them,” biology major freshman Morgan Suchy said.u