January 30, 2012

Dickinson's Preseason Community Service Tradition

by Chrstine Baksi | from Dickinson.edu

© Dickinson College

Although the start of the spring season is still a few weeks away, the Dickinson men's lacrosse team already has posted a winning record. The team recently returned from Baltimore, where members spent the last week of winter break collectively logging nearly 2,000 hours of community service for a local nonprofit organization.

Head coach Dave Webster '88 says community service presents unmatched team-building and learning opportunities for his players.

"You can't replicate what we do over the course of one week in any other way," he says. "We certainly gave a lot in terms of effort and hard work; however, we received much more in terms of lessons learned and a new perspective of that community and the wonderful folks who work and live there."

Second chance

Webster has organized a weeklong preseason service trip every other year since 2006, when the team traveled to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. This year, the team was paired with Second Chance, an organization that reclaims and sells building materials and provides jobs for unemployed and displaced workers.

For Second Chance, the team's arrival came at a critical time. The organization is relocating, and all donated contents of its 165,000-square-foot warehouse must go to the new space.

Team co-captain Sam Abramson '12 recalls the week.

"They had a huge number of items that needed to be moved and organized— kitchenware, washers and dryers, plywood, clothing, dressers and everything imaginable in between," he says. "Another major activity was breaking down an entire basketball court floor so that Second Chance could bundle and sell the wood. This took about two days of nonstop work and was one of our significant accomplishments of the week."

Abramson, an international business & management (IB&M) major from Alexandria, Va., says the work helped team members cement bonds not only with each other, but with Second Chance workers.

"We were able to form meaningful relationships with many of the employees," he says. "They were genuinely interested in us and loved having us around, and we loved talking with them about their experiences and life in general."

Co-captain Ward Gruppo, a senior IB&M major from Fairfield, Conn., agrees.

"They took a special interest in us and were wishing us well in our upcoming season and our future endeavors."

Second Chance organizers report that the team completed approximately $30,000 worth of labor, which allows the organization to reinvest that amount in training activities.

Mom knows best

Selecting the team's nonprofit partner is an inclusive process. Webster begins by soliciting families for suggestions. When sophomore Ben McDonald's mom, Jamie, got Webster's email, she eagerly nominated Second Chance.

A Baltimore-area executive and entrepreneur who co-founded GiveCorps, an organization that promotes philanthropy by connecting organizations and donors, McDonald was familiar with Second Chance's mission and thought the organization would benefit from the team's help.

"Being engaged in the community is a huge part of my life," says McDonald. "I'm so impressed that Dickinson fosters it. This is the launch of the 2012 season and to start it off this way says a lot about the priorities of the program."

Team fusion

Dickinson, which is ranked third in the country, starts their season at home against Lycoming College on Feb. 22. Gruppo says the team is bonded and ready for the season, thanks in part to the week they spent together volunteering for Second Chance.

"The team bonding that occurs on this trip is most evident through the class fusion. By the end of the week, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between a senior and a freshman," he says. "This is something that Dickinson lacrosse takes great pride in and we feel that it is a huge advantage to have a united group."

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