Labor Day Weekend won't officially start until about 1,000 freshmen at the University of Rochester get sweaty and serious about community service. For the 15th year, Wilson Days will complete freshman orientation with acts of service to others.
Work assignments are spread over two days, Aug. 29 and 30, to give students more time to learn about community needs and to travel around the city before classes start Tuesday, Sept. 2. More than 70 nonprofit groups and agencies requested students for chores, including painting, cleaning, and staffing fun activities like carnivals and outings.
Faculty, staff, local alumni, and students from the Eastman School of Music will raise the number to about 1,400 volunteers in the city and suburbs. Seniors Anne E. Stinson of Marcellus, N.Y., and Lincoln "Callid" Keefe of Westminster, Mass., are organizing this year's Wilson Days.
When students aren't at work at agencies from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., they will attend workshops on community issues or board buses to sample food, check out merchandise and museums, and see sights not far from the River Campus. The tours began last year as a way to quickly introduce students to neighborhoods that can be reached by bus.
Almost every student group in the College makes a community service commitment as part of its activities during the academic year. With a fuller understanding of service through Wilson Days, more students learn the value of volunteering.
On Saturday, Sept. 13, in nine U.S. cities, University of Rochester alumni will renew their own freshman experiences and perform community service through Wilson Day USA. That event is organized by the UR Involved Volunteer Program of the College Advancement Office.
Wilson Days are named for the Joseph C. Wilson family, whose members have been benefactors of the University of Rochester and the Rochester community. Wilson, former president and chairman of Xerox Corp., was an alumnus and a philanthropist.
A $4,000 grant from the city of Rochester helps pay for on-site materials, and dozens of large and small private businesses and organizations also support the students' efforts in the community.