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An “Ethos of Service”—YSPH Gives Back to the Community

May 10, 2019
by Michael Greenwood

Yale School of Public Health faculty, staff, alumni and students fanned out at sites across greater New Haven—and into neighboring Woodbridge—on Thursday (May 9) for the school’s fifth annual Day of Service.

Close to 100 volunteers in commemorative white T-shirts pushed wheelbarrows full of dirt, gardened, cleaned and spent time with residents at a home for people living with HIV/AIDS. All volunteers shared a common motivation: give back to the community.

“This is a marvelous tradition that brings the School of Public Health into the community for projects in which we can be of use,” said Dean Sten H. Vermund. “One day does not transform New Haven, but it is an appreciated gesture of commitment that underscores the YSPH ethos of service.”

This year’s day of service included the following six sites:

· Common Ground High School Farm in New Haven

· Leeway in New Haven

· New Haven Farms in New Haven

· New Haven Land Trust in New Haven

· Ronald McDonald House of Connecticut in New Haven

· Massaro Community Farm in Woodbridge

At Leeway, Connecticut’s only skilled nursing and supportive residential facility dedicated to individuals living with HIV/AIDS, the emphasis Thursday was on engagement and fun. Nearly 20 YSPH volunteers visited the facility on Albert Street. Some spent the morning brightening up the building’s grounds with fresh flowers, while others made cards with residents in a sun-filled atrium. Friendships quickly blossomed as the volunteers chatted and laughed with Leeway’s residents throughout the morning. An impromptu karaoke session broke out followed by an energetic game of Bingo with resident winners receiving donated gifts.

“A lot of our residents don’t have visitors or have become disconnected with their family, so when people come in on Yale Day of Service it is like an extended family visit,” said Jeanne Lovrin, Leeway’s therapeutic recreation coordinator and a 1993 graduate of Yale’s Eli Program.

Meanwhile, across New Haven at the Ronald McDonald House, a YSPH team scrubbed and cleaned the outdoor patio furniture, children’s toys and a playground. The house on Howard Avenue has apartments available for families who want to be nearby when a child is being treated across the street at Yale-New Haven Hospital or other medical facilities in the area.

At New Haven Farms on James Street, YSPH volunteers rolled up their sleeves and did some gardening. The group weeded, prepared raised beds, planted two varieties of kale and kohlrabi and strung trellises for peas and tomatoes.

Not far away at the New Haven Land Trust on Adeline Street, about a dozen YSPH students, staff and an alumna cleared knotweed overgrowth, dead branches and years of neighborhood debris dumped in the New Haven Land Trust’s MLK Peace Garden. Interesting finds included two televisions, a patio tabletop, a cell phone and a Bentley Panthers basketball state champion ring. The Land Trust has over 50 community gardens and 6 nature preserves across the city.

About a dozen people traveled to neighboring Woodbridge where they planted kale, helped erected a large tent and filled garden beds with compost in preparation for planting.

The effort was rounded out at Common Ground, where volunteers did spring cleaning at its Urban Farm. The farm is used to teach area high school students about sustainable agriculture as well as healthy eating.

The volunteer effort ended back at the School of Public Health with a picnic and a giant “thank you” from the dean for the morning’s hard work.

This activity takes place as part of the Yale Day of Service sponsored by the Yale Alumni Association (YAA) on May 11. Alumni from all over the world are invited to participate and more information can be found on their website,

To see a full album of pictures from the Day of Service, go to the Yale School of Public Health Facebook page at

Submitted by Colin Poitras on May 10, 2019