Service Updates at Olin

Service Activity Updates at Olin!
Doctors Without Borders: Olin Community
The $9,719.62 from the SERV auction has been officially donated to Doctors Without Borders to help them deliver emergency medical aid to those in conflict, epidemics, and disasters – such as the most recent Nepal earthquake.

E-Disco: Led by Doyung, Aditi, Cecelia & Toni
Have been designing and leading weekly designing activities with JFK Elementary School in Jamaica Plain throughout the semester
Held engineering workshops: Wellesley STEM Expo, Storybook Engineering, Discovery Museum, Disabilities Design and final Saturday Workshop!
Annabel, Paul, Shreya and Mary will join the leadership team in the Fall and they are figuring out future activities

Oxfam Hunger Banquet: Led by Aaron Greiner and Anisha Nakagawa
Talk by Doug Rauch, Olin Trustee member and former president of Trader Joes, on founding the Daily Table, which will bring affordable nutrition to the underserved in our cities by recovering excess food and selling it at low-cost
Hunger Banquet to promote discussion around hunger worldwide

The Food Recovery Network: Led by Mackenzie Frackleton with GROW
Partnering with the Food Recovery Network to donate uneaten, prepared food from the dining hall to the Salvation Army to combat both wasted food and hunger
Currently scheduling the first date for donation!

Reusable Travel Mugs in the DH: Led by Ruby Spring, Celina Berkins, Anisha Nakagawa and Aaron Greiner with GROW
Working to have travel mugs available in the DH to reduce the number of disposable cups used
Will be looking for volunteers to help collect mugs from bins in the dorms and AC in the Fall

Red Cross Blood Drive: Organized by Michael Resnick
Olin community helped around 99 people when 44 community members donated blood late March!

Peer Advocates: Team of Twelve Students; Led by Ellie Funkhouser and Jessica Diller
The Peer Advocates team has been busy selecting next year’s new PAs, getting training (and some orientation activities!) ready, and planning community outreach and involvement events.

Teaching 5th Graders: Gabrielle Ewall and Mitch Cieminski
Finished up teaching fourth grade students cryptography in Math League; lessons covered: Caesar ciphers, RAE encryption, and Scytales

Vecna Cares Robot Race: David Elkan, Mitch Cieminski, Alex Crease, Celina Bekins
Built a robot to participate in a robot race hosted by Vecna Technologies. All proceeds benefit Vecna Cares Charitable Trust, a non-profit dedicated to better health outcomes around the world through better technology solutions.

Blankets for Project Linus:
All blankets are completed thanks to EH1’s study break and various blanket adopters (Philicia, Celina, and Susie)!

“Earn-A-Bike” at Bikes Not Bombs: Rosy as an Adult Instructor
Teaching bicycle mechanics and social justice theory and practice to youth, who build a bicycle from the frame up over the course of the program

Upcoming Activities to Look Forward to!
Big Brothers Big Sisters College Campus program beginning September and October 2015 – Questions? Please contact Michael Searing at

Do you participate in service-related activity within or outside of Olin? If so and you would like your work to be included in Service Updates in future Frankly Speaking issues, please email & .

SERV: More Than Words

This is the first installment of a monthly spotlight on volunteering opportunities in the Boston area. We’ll share the stories of organizations as well as how you can get involved! Feel free to email for your thoughts and feedback to help me continually improve this segment.


If you want to empower disadvantaged youth through real-world skills such as business and interview training, More Than Words (MTW) is the perfect place to help. The organization helps youth “who are in foster care, court involved, homeless or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business.” More Than Words does this by creating a chain of bookstores that sell donated books. More importantly, the bookstore is completely run by the at-risk teens enrolled in the program. Organizers, staff, and other volunteers help and train these young adults with the entrepreneurial and people skills that they need to succeed once they graduate from the program.


More Than Words accepts at-risk adolescents who are 16-21 years-old who have “compounding risk factors and are in need of an empowering life experience” to help them rise above their current situation.

84% have recent or current involvement with the foster care system.

54% have recent or current court involvement.

~80% do not have their GED and are either not pursuing or struggling in school.

More Than Words proactively collects data to track its program’s effectiveness. 83% of MTW graduates have received or plan to receive their GED/diploma, compared to the 18% who had a GED/diploma before participating in the program. Also, 34% of graduates have enrolled in postsecondary education compared to 5% prior (illustrated in the graph below). Similarly, work-school engagement rises to 83% from 5% before the program (see the graph on the facing page). “While approximately 50% of youth come to MTW with court-involvement, this number drops to 28% when they leave the program and continues to drop to 10% within 24 months after the core program.”

Francis, a veteran of MTW, writes: “Before I came to MTW, I was getting in a lot of trouble, became court involved, and wasn’t going to school. While I was at MTW, I really enjoyed getting work experience. I learned how to give excellent customer service and how to be professional, and got my GED. I really appreciated all of the love at More Than Words. They helped me get the things I needed in life and helped me stay on track. When I transitioned, I got an internship at a hotel and now I just got a job at Bentley College. I’m working hard on my education. Education is very important to me now because I know that having an education can take you far in life.”




Jodi Rosenbaum started More Than Words “after a friend saw a pile of books on the side of the road.” Jodi states: “We realized those books were worth money and a hands-on way to empower youth with real-world skills… I am particularly passionate about adolescents who are system-involved and typically seen as liabilities rather than assets. For over 15 years I have worked in the public schools, juvenile courts, and nonprofit sector and have seen so many kids fall through the cracks despite good intentions. I think too often our efforts to help focus too much on trying to fix problems or remediate. That’s what has ignited my passion. I see youths with skills and untapped potential. It is exciting to be part of a model that focuses on how to empower a spark, a hope, and that gives an opportunity for youth to do it for themselves” [1].

Do Something

All in all, More Than Words is a great social venture where you can directly help up-and-coming adults with relevant skills so that they can also become contributors to society. There are various options to participate. For a one-time thing, you can assist as a mock interviewer and give feedback to the program members to improve their interview skills. You can also run a small workshop! (Think about some really helpful things you’ve learned while at Olin.) Finally, you can get involved on a weekly or monthly basis, working with the youth managing the store or being an educational coach.

If you are interested in volunteering at MTW, let’s come together and help out as a team. SERV will connect you with other Oliners who also want to participate. Find out more about More Than Words at, check out the upcoming carpe, and/or talk about it during our daily tabling sessions!


A Survey on Service at Olin

This month we asked the student body a few questions to understand how service is currently being pursued at Olin. (All good design comes from good research!) We would like to share with you some of our findings and also how we can proceed as a community doing service.
Some quantitative questions we asked were:
Do you have an individual service project you are currently doing? If yes, what is the service activity called? If not, what are some areas of opportunities you may be interested in volunteering in? If you have a specific service activity in mind, what is the name?

We were happy to receive 66 responses to the survey. The distribution of people who currently identify themselves as service participators is shown Figure 1 to the right.

fs-mar_service1According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, the college student volunteering rate across the country lies at 30.5% and is 30.7% in Massachusetts. Nationally, the median annual volunteering hours per college student is 40 hours, and “44.1% of college student volunteers engage in ‘regular’ volunteering (volunteering 12 or more weeks a year with their main organization)” [1]. This demonstrates that we, as a college, have a lot of room for improvement!

The results from our survey show that 82% of people who are interested in doing service are not actually engaging in it, suggesting that service opportunities are not easily accessible for students at Olin. We want to improve to follow the fifth founding precept from the Franklin W. Olin foundation: “The college, itself, the product of philanthropy, should find ways to contribute to its community and beyond… Policies must be maintained that support these outcomes.”

For those of us who are currently participating in service, the activities that we currently do include (but are not limited to): Edisco, HonorBoard, JFK Elementary School, Food Recovery Network, Math League, therapeutic riding, Brigham and Women’s hospital, regularly donating blood, and being a peer advocate. (Email us at to let us know of a service you do that we missed!)

For Oliners who are currently not sure how to volunteer, the graph in Figure 2 demonstrates interest in the following sectors. fs-mar_service2Among these results, there were also other interests, including: professional applications of my engineering abilities, retirement homes/hospice, robotics, social justice, sporting events, youth art centers, and any other under-served group.

So now knowing what we can improve on and also what we are interested in, how should we move forward? Last month, Service Pursuits were introduced to help students get assistance and funding to participate in any service activity they are interested in. As we brought this new opportunity to the student body, we realized that many people loved the freedom and support that they now have. However, many of us don’t know where to start.
It takes time for us to find the right service we want to pursue, and with our busy lifestyles, finding service may quickly become marginalized. So to make this process even simpler, here are some strategies.

SERV members will be tabling every week from Monday to Thursday – come talk to us if you have any interest in trying a service pursuit! Not only do we process your requests, we are also here to help you form them.
Talk with friends and see what kind of service they are participating / want to participate in! We can help each other find opportunities that really engages us.

Expect to see some more informative documents/emails in the next few weeks. We are currently in the process of taking our research and creating a simple experience for everyone to find the service that matches their interests.
Give us feedback! Honesty is the most important aspect of this whole process, and without your thoughts and opinions, we can’t become the best service community that we aspire to be. Come talk with us in the dining hall or anytime, or email us at

I’m excited to see the next chapter of our service story at Olin, and I hope you are too!


SERV Update and Restructuring

We’ve had a lot of conversations over the past few months and years about what service means to the Olin community. Now it’s time to address all the concerns we’ve noted time and again.

We’re proposing a complete restructuring of SERV, which you can find the details of within CORe’s restructuring proposal for Olin’s student government (read more about Olin’s change of structure to student government in the previous article “If It Ain’t Broke… Make It Better”). We’re presenting an alternative version of SERV where the current 8-person SERV Board will be condensed down to a 2-person committee consisting of a Director and Assistant Director. This doesn’t mean SERV is going away or hiding behind the scenes. It doesn’t mean service is any less important. It simply means that we’re setting up a structure to revert back to SERV’s original purpose.

As it currently stands, it is largely up to the SERV Board to generate and implement all service ideas at Olin, which has led to a warped sense of what service means to our community and placed a certain stigma around Friday Service Time. SERV’s actual role should be to facilitate and fund service clubs, organizations and activities, and we think it will be far more effective to have a 2-person committee working with a wider group of non-SERV members to revitalize service at Olin.

Oh, and about Friday Service Time – we’re proposing a name change to something, more along the lines of “Community Time” or “Community Growth Time,” in order to encompass a wider net of activities that could improve Olin as well as help the outside community. If you have any ideas for what we should rename the time to, drop us a line. If you’re unfamiliar with what Friday Service Time is, look in the course catalog on at the time slot on Fridays from 3:20 – 5:00. You’ll notice it is blocked off as “Community Service.”

Now here’s the fun part! We are also using this semester to experiment with different ways to encourage service at Olin. After reflecting on feedback received last semester about Olin’s culture and what we can do to improve service awareness at Olin at the conversation with Rae-Anne Butera, the SERV Board is excited to introduce a new program we are piloting this semester: Service Pursuits. Much like the existing Passionate Pursuits program, the Service Pursuits program encourages and supports students toward pursuing their personal philanthropic interests during their time at Olin. Students choose a project, set their own goals, and develop their interests with the guidance of faculty or staff members. Then they can receive funding from SERV.

There is a wide variety of service opportunities open to Olin community members. Some opportunities are off-campus with local non-profit organizations, while others are internal, such as service to the college. Both types of projects will be considered for funding. Funding of up to $50 per student will be available each semester, and we encourage students to submit applications to the SERV Board at any time throughout the semester. The Service Pursuits application form will be emailed out today and placed in the SERV folder on Public. You can also grab a hard copy from us when we table at lunch!

In addition, we are introducing the Service Drivers mailing list: This list is for student volunteers willing to provide rides for people who want to do service off campus. Students seeking rides related to performing service can send a request to the mailing list to see if anyone is available to help them with transportation.

Both of these programs are new, and we would love to hear your feedback. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, or if you just want to chat about the state of service at Olin, please email

October Updates from the SERV Board

Happy October from the SERV board! First and foremost, we are thrilled to welcome our two newest SERV members: Michael Costello and Brenna Manning! Just as a reminder, though, service is for everyone. The role of the SERV board is to give you the funds and resources necessary to make service easy. If you ever have an idea for a service activity or want to volunteer, let us know!

We had an exciting month in September. This semester’s kickball tournament was one of our most successful yet, and we raised over $160 for Kick-it, an organization dedicated to children’s cancer research. The weather was great, and we had a lot of fun and friendly competition! Congratulations to the winning team, Baller Not Ready.

In September, we also cleaned up Parcel B and made blankets for Project Linus during Alumni Weekend, had Olin students and faculty walking in the Jimmy Fund Walk and running in the Charles River Center 5K. To cap it all off, we held a Thankathon with the Office of DFAR to call parents and alumni who donated to Olin in the past fiscal year. Thanks to everyone who participated and made this month’s SERV events a success!

Here are the events coming up in October that you should look out for:

10/3 – Blood Drive

Contact Michael Resnick for more information.

10/11 – International Day of the Girl Child

In order to participate in this annual event to promote gender equality, SERV had combined forces with SWE and eDisco to invite middle school girls from the community to come to Olin from 9am-12pm on Saturday October 11th to hear from women role models and learn more about engineering. We’re still looking for volunteers, so let us know if you want to help out!

We will also be making more blankets for Project Linus at Family Weekend. You should all keep an eye on your inbox mid-October for the SERV Auction kick-off. This is SERV’s biggest event of the year, and we’re really excited to get started. If you’re interested in helping out this year, email – we can use all the help we can get!

Remember, SERV is here for you, and we are always open to your exciting new ideas! E-mail us at, follow us on Twitter @olinserv, and Like us on Facebook! Have a great month and eat lots of apple cider donuts!

Kicking Off the New Year with SERV!

Welcome back to Olin! We hope your summers were wonderful, and we’re really excited as a board to share with you all the new, exciting service-oriented activities we’re planning for the new semester. We have elections, we have events, and we have resources for all your volunteering needs! Read on to find out more.

Here’s what’s on the horizon for our first month of school:

9/19 – Kickball Tournament! Our semi-annual kickball tournament for Kick-It, an organization working towards a cure for children’s cancer, will be happening on Friday, September 19. Grab your friends and form a team! Registration is $20 per team, and there should be 8-10 people per team. We are also looking for referees, so let us know if you want to volunteer.

9/20 – Alumni Weekend SERV. On Saturday of the reunion weekend, we will be hosting a Parcel B clean up from 11:30am- 1:00pm and making blankets for Project Linus, an organization that donates blankets to children in need, during the picnic from 1:00pm-4:00pm. Stop by for a while and hang out with alumni while you walk through Parcel B or make a fuzzy blanket!

9/21 – Jimmy Fund Walk. Every year, Team Olin walks in memory of our former VP of Academic Affairs Mike Moody. Join the team or donate to help our team reach their goal of $10,000!

9/28 – Charles River Center 5K! This year, SERV is sponsoring the Charles River Center Road Race, a 5K to raise money for an organization that has been providing aid for adults and children with disabilities and autism for 58 years. Join the Olin College team and run with us in Needham/ Wellesley on Sunday at 11am! SERV will reimburse each student $5 for the registration fee. They are also looking for non-runners to volunteer at the race, so let us know if you are interested.

This year, the SERV board will be holding weekly lunch meetings from 12:30-1:30 in the Crescent Room on Fridays, so feel free to stop by and say hello and find out what we are planning. We are also going to be tabling during lunch again, so stop by on your way through the dining hall to say hi and see what we’re up to!

As always, SERV is here for you, and we are always open to your exciting new ideas! E-mail us at, join the CarpeSERV mailing list for updates about spontaneous community service opportunities, and follow us on Twitter @olinserv to get the latest update on upcoming events. Oh, and we have a Facebook page now, so Like us there, too! Have a great month, and welcome to all of our first years!

Election News!

Every fall, we elect two more general members to join our SERV board. Of the two positions available, at least one has to be filled by a first year student, but everyone is welcome to run. Applications are due on Friday, 9/12 and we will be hosting a school meeting and inviting people to vote on Monday, September 15 and Tuesday, September 16 respectively. If you would like more information on how to get involved, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Ari at or Julianne at julianne. jorgensen@students.olin. edu. We’d love to chat with you and answer any questions you may have, and we’ll be sending more details about the election process soon as well. We can’t wait to finish filling our SERV board for the year! :)

Updates from the Illustrious SERV Board

What’s up, Olin? It’s your favorite SERV board, back for your final update of the fall semester.

To kick things off, thank you all SO MUCH for helping us make the SERV Auction a huge success — your donations were bid on for $10,300, more than ever before! We especially want to thank all our volunteers and proxy bidders who went the extra mile, our awesome MCs Dan and Noam, and our splendid faculty and staff who really went above and beyond with their donations. The SERV Auction is definitely our biggest event each year, and it’s wonderful to see the entire community participate and donate to such a great cause!

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Updates from the Illustrious SERV Board

Happy October from the SERV board! First, some good news – thanks to your votes, we have elected our two new general members from the first year class: Maddy Fort and Shrinidhi Thirumalai! We are super excited to have them join our team.

Now that the semester is well underway, we are looking for larger impact service projects that we can do over the course of the next few months. As always, if you have any ideas, let us know and we’ll see what we can figure out!

Here’s what we’ve been up to and what’s on the horizon as we enter the fall season:

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