Community Service Day – Ignite a Desire to Serve

by Sara Barth Class of 2015 design team member

Nearly 50 class members of Leadership Greater Syracuse met on Wednesday, July 8 to participate in their seventh class day which was themed, “Ignite a Desire to Serve.” Throughout the eight-hour day, class members would volunteer more than 150 hours at 10 local organizations. They would also discover how the day was constructed using a variety of free online collaboration tools and go hairnet-to-hairnet in the competition of their lives. 

Stars all around us

The day began at  Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit, tax exempt organization dedicated to granting the wishes of children between the ages of 2 ½ and 18 who are living with life-threatening medical conditions. It was in this brightly colored conference room that class members learned about the mission, history and importance of MAW from Jennifer Snyder, manager of volunteer and community outreach.

Snyder spoke to the availability of current wishes as well as the process by which wishes are granted. She also shared a story of each type of wish and encouraged class members to participate by donating air miles, volunteering, contributing financially or referring a potential candidate.

Travel at your own risk

The “Ignite” design team was able to select, contact and schedule volunteer activities for the entire class using a variety of online collaboration tools (more about that later). The 10 volunteer groups included CNY SPCA, Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Francis House, A Tiny Home for Good, Ronald McDonald House, Food Bank of CNY, Huntington Family Centers, Make-A-Wish, Meals on Wheels and the Samaritan Center. Each group traveled with a design team member(s) to their destination where they were responsible for various tasks and contributions from 9:15-12:00.

{While we won’t go into detail about every organization here, we will encourage you to click on each link to learn more on your own.} You can also visit #LGSignite to view what each group was working on.

The team also sent out an email prior to class day with directions on how to install and use Instagram. As a result, we were able to monitor progress throughout the day of all of the other volunteer groups. 

Mad-Lib melee

Following the excursions of the 10 volunteer groups, in which each contributed in different ways than the other teams, we all met back up at MAW headquarters to enjoy lunch by Lieh & Steigerwald, specializing in sausages, but also delicious corporate catering. Who knew!?

In order to discover more about each individual volunteer group, and the organization they volunteered at, the team distributed Mad-Libs to each group with instructions to fill them out collaboratively and then share with the class. In this way, we all discovered who went where, what they did, and how classmates could continue to make a difference at each organization. 

This was immediately followed by a design team presentation, which featured characters from the Wizard of Oz with heads of the design team members. This presentation served to demonstrate how technology was used to prepare, plan and produce the incredible class day we were all experiencing— in a slightly ‘cheesy’ way. Our characters introduced these tools and briefly spoke about Trello, Survey Monkey, Google Docs and Instagram.

From first time Trello’ers, to Google Doc designers, the tools our design team drew upon taught everyone something new about themselves and their capabilities. Every new app, online collaboration tool or survey helped team members organize, record and assign in real-time and in many ways it also brought us closer to understanding one another.

Networking presentations

At the conclusion of our entertaining presentation, the class heard from a variety of speakers who spoke for 8-10 minutes each. These speakers included Christine Corbett, director of development at Make-A-Wish, Andrew Lunetta, founder and executive director of A Tiny Home for Good, and Oscar Vergara, program youth services director for Big Brothers and Sisters.

The class also heard from Michael Melara, executive director for Catholic Charities, Honor Flight, with John Paddock, a retired U.S. Navy Admiral, Pet Partners of Syracuse, with Maureen Mullally Fekete, co-president, and Valerie Hill, the director of community services at the Southwest Community Center.

After the presentations, we directed class members to another room where each organization had space to interact, educate and answer any questions. In this way, everyone was afforded the opportunity to meet with the agencies they were most interested in and learn more about how to get involved.

Hairnet -to-Hairnet

Before the day was done, the design team knew they wanted to have something tangible to give back to another organization that the class had visited during a previous class day (Human Services and Boardmanship Day).

With that in mind, our challenge to each team was to complete 40 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, including assembly and packaging. The winning group would receive $100 toward the organization they volunteered at that day, and the knowledge that they took part in feeding the men, women and children who visit the Rescue Mission every day. What an incentive!

The coordinated chaos that ensued was hysterical. Each team, competitive in its own right, had to create their own technique, work together and complete the task, all while listening to the theme song “Peanut Butter and Jelly,” by the Buckwheat Boyz. The winning team: Daren, Sara, Angela, Melissa and Stacey could not have been more appreciative of the opportunity to give back even more, and were elated when the class also donated nearly $150 to the purchase of a premium waste station for the CNYSPCA.

Follow Collamer Road

Before our day ended, the volunteer groups all had an opportunity to send a personal message to the organizations they volunteered for. The branded ‘Thank You’ cards were monogramed with our class day logo and our #LGSignite hashtag so that they could check out the photos and messages posted throughout the day on Instagram. The class day concluded with a celebratory Happy Hour at Bull & Bear Roadhouse, where much fun was had by all – no hairnets necessary.

For the full experience, visit our Recap- on Flipagram or #LGSignite on our #tagboard.

A big shout out to the best design team ever:

Adam “Google Doc Extraordinaire” Wasileski

Deb “Emcee of Make A Wish” Sabella

Gale “I Want to Experience it All” Bowens

Jen “PB&J Analyst” Condon

Kim “Let’s go to the Zoo” Delperuto

Lauren “Excuse my OCD” Germain

Liz “Who needs a Smartphone anyways?” Silliman

Mark “You can’t make me talk” LaLomia

Martha “Fairy GodMartha” Dollekamp

Sara  “Let’s Meet at a Bar” Barth

Sara “Mad-libbing it Up” Eschelbacher

Wes “We’re off topic” Belisle