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Freshmen fan into community for annual Wilson Day

August 30, 2016
group of studentsUniversity freshmen John Clay, Noah Chartier, Ebison Ekperigin, Erich Spaker, Keyuan Qin, Chunhao Liu, Kenneth Bryant and Roland Cruz pose for a photo at the EquiCenter in Honoeye Falls, NY, during the annual Wilson Day of community service. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Matthew Le ’20 loves the idea of Wilson Day.

“I like to help people, and it’s nice to go into the community and give back,” the biology major from Lake Placid, New York said. “When you think about it, helping people really should be second nature.”

Monday afternoon, more than 1,300 College students from the Class of 2020 joined a handful of transfer students at 75 service sites in Rochester, where they painted, trimmed bushes, set up school classrooms, and worked with children and seniors as part of the 28th annual Wilson Day.

Le was one of 20 students who visited the Edna Tina Wilson Living Center in Greece, a northwest suburb of Rochester. Landscaping was the assignment, and Le said he was “just excited to get out in the community.”

Wilson Day is sponsored by the University’s Rochester Center for Community Leadership. The goals are to help bond new classmates, introduce them to the community, and teach them the importance of community engagement. Students visited schools, nursing homes, cemeteries, the Memorial Art Gallery, a Girls Scout camp, and a farmers’ market among other sites.

“It’s like the first day of baseball or football season,” University president and CEO Joel Seligman told the students (all wearing blue Wilson Day t-shirts) during opening ceremonies in the Goergen Athletic Center. “We are an urban university, and we celebrate our relationship to the Rochester community.”

Seligman visited three sites: East Upper and Lower Schools, where students prepped classrooms and cleaned up campus gardens; Genesee Land Trust, where the volunteers helped with trash pickup, weeding, and mulching; and Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services, where freshmen painted and cleaned a home to prepare it for a refugee family.

Wilson Day is named in honor of longtime University and Rochester community philanthropists Joseph Wilson ’31, his wife Marie (Peggy) Wilson, and their family.

“My grandfather had three tenets,” Scott Wilson told students at Monday’s opening ceremony. “Family first, business second—making a living, and he did a good job of that—and community. I encourage you to get engaged, and get into the community.”

Vanessa Lara ’20 of Chicago was one of 10 freshmen who helped out at the Girl Scouts of Western New York’s Camp Piperwood in Perinton. Their job was to trim bushes around the spacious facility.

Lara has plenty of experience volunteering. As a member of Rotaract, a community service program, her volunteer work has included helping with Special Olympics and working with low-income families.

“I think Wilson Day is a great idea,” Lara says. “You see the smile that puts on someone’s face, and it makes your day. I definitely plan to stay involved in Rochester beyond today.”

This year’s theme was “Plug into Rochester, connect to your community.”

“This is the first chance freshmen will have to get into the community and see what a great place Rochester is to live,” said Wilson Day coordinator Jamie Rudd ’17.

Wilson Day in Photos

(University photos / J. Adam Fenster)

student pushing a wheel barrow, with horses in the backgroun

Lauren White, Julianna Savitz, and Alanoud Alzaid help out at EquiCenter in Honoeye Falls, NY.

teacher speaking with University administrators in classroom

East Upper School global history teacher Leda Williams-Matthews (left) speaks with President Joel Seligman (right) and Dean of Students Matt Burns as Rochester students help set up her classroom.

student in empty classroom carrying books

John Ennis moves books in a classroom at East Upper School in Rochester.

students posing for a photo with government leaders

Rochester mayor Lovely Warren (left) and New York senator Charles Schumer (center) meet with students during their Wilson Day of community service. (University photo / Lydia Fernandez)

large group of students posing for a photo

First year students pose for a photo at Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor, NY. during Wilson Day activities.



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