A dozen members of the Student Government Association, led by President Erna Wilson FP '10, joined with civic groups and committed citizens Saturday, October 18, to help beautify the South Hadley Falls neighborhood on South Hadley Make a Difference Day.
Clad in pink SGA T-shirts, the Mount Holyoke students joined with civic leaders--including State Representative John Scibak and Selectboard member Marilyn Ishler--and civic organizations, including the Girls Scouts, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Conservation Commission. More than 85 participant took up rakes, brooms, weed whackers, and trash bags to get the job done.
"Civic engagement is an incredibly important value and I am glad that members of the Mount Holyoke community were interested in spending their time to make the South Hadley community a nicer place to be. We got the opportunity to get to know the people of South Hadley while getting to know one another as well," MHC's Wilson said. "The South Hadley Make a Difference Day was a truly fun and productive day. Thank you to everyone who participated in the event."
In addition to Wilson, student participants were Maressa Bell-Deane '09, Grace Campbell '10, Katherine Heston '11, Melissa Ibarra '12, Reesha Katcher '10, Kate LeCain '10, Angelica Longe '09, Amy Maynard '11, Sam Silver '10, and Marieka Walsh '11.
According to selectboard member Robert Judge, who played a key role in organizing the event, "We were impressed by the numbers of students from Mount Holyoke and how hard they worked. They took some of the most difficult tasks that were assigned! I hope we can find another way in the future to tap the skills of these multitalented students."
Judge said the idea started last summer when Linda Young, a former selectboard member and Mount Holyoke biology department staff member, organized a breakfast meeting of Falls business owners. The participants talked about long-range economic development for the Falls, but they also realized that they could build momentum with small, simple steps. Ed Wall, owner of Pioneer Financial on Bridge Street; Young; Judge; and a small group of other residents met to begin to plan for an event that could involve the whole town.
"We decided that we wanted to do something in the Falls that had the same community spirit as Columbus Day on Town Common, which would be held just a week earlier," Judge said.
Judge added that he had contacted the College, and was put in touch with Erna Wilson of the SGA and with facilities management, which loaned some equipment for the volunteers to use that day.