On Saturday, Sept. 29, cities across the country united to celebrate DU Good Day. Throughout the nation, alumni, family and friends of Drake University came together to volunteer and make a difference. In 2011, over 250 people volunteered at twelve sites in the United States. This year, led by members of the National Alumni Association, there were over 300 volunteers and 13 cities involved with DU Good Day 2012.
This year, groups helped with outside organizations through landscaping, construction, picking up litter, cleaning riverbanks, working in food banks and much more.
Bryan Klopack, a 2006 Drake graduate, led the event in the Washington, D.C. area, where he and his group assisted an area organization by landscaping and working on necessary home improvements at a local group home.
“We are working with SOME (So Others Might Eat), which is a community-based organization in the D.C. that offers a comprehensive, holistic approach to caring for the homeless and extremely poor citizens of our city,” Klopack said.
Saturday also marked the first-ever DU Good Day in New York City and Los Angeles. In New York, volunteers worked with the Central Park Conservancy, helping keep Central Park clean by picking up litter and trash.
The Los Angeles area volunteers worked with the Doris Cantlay Center, an organization that provides services to families in need. Led by 1981 graduate David Beall, volunteers painted the lobby of the center and prepared bags of groceries for distribution.
In Chicago, Mary Pat Rooney, a 2008 graduate, linked her education with her current occupation.
“I work for a nonprofit here in Chicago and thought it would be a great fit! Since I work in the organization’s development department, I volunteered to act as the site coordinator,” Rooney said.
Rooney works for Chicago’s Lakeview Pantry, one of the largest and oldest pantries in the metropolitan area, where volunteers worked Saturday.
Close to 50 volunteers worked with the Desert Mission Food Bank in Phoenix, Ariz. The Bank provides relief to more than 4,500 Phoenix families each month, filling a gigantic need. Not to mention, it was a perfect fit for 1981 graduate and coordinator Tammy Perkins who said, “DU Good Day is a perfect volunteer activity for me – I get to support Drake and help people in Phoenix!”
Groups in Denver and the Twin Cities worked to limit water pollution in their rivers and lakes. Laurel Herold, the Twin Cites coordinator and 2008 graduate, elaborated on her group’s task.
“We’re working with Minneapolis Public Works to stencil signs that read, ‘No dumping, this runs to our lakes,’ on the storm drains around Lake of the Isles,” Herold said. “Water pollution is an issue that impacts all of us, and this project gives our group a chance to educate others in a fun way.”
Around 30 alumni volunteers in Denver came out and, with the Denver Parks and Recreation department, participated in a clean up of the Platte River, which runs through downtown Denver.
Here in the Des Moines area, around 65 volunteers led by co-chairs Kim Pfannebecker and Susan Stocum partnered with the Drake Neighborhood Association to beautify and improve Witmer Park and other areas around campus.
“We felt it made sense to focus our efforts on the Drake neighborhood because all of our alumni, as well as current students/staff, called that area home during their time at Drake. It just seemed appropriate.” Pfannebecke said.
As for the purpose of DU Good Day, Beall talked about a perspective of mutual gratitude.
“I gained so much from Drake during my time there, and I feel like this is a wonderful opportunity to help further the university’s good name, while also connecting alumni with a very worthwhile organization. It’s a win all the way around,” Beall said.