Woods Week of Service goes global

June 12th, 2015 | SMWC

From Indiana to Italy, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College alumni celebrate their alma mater’s 175th anniversary with the spirit of service.

By: Sara Palmer

View Photos from the Week of Service

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin once said, “We cannot do our work if we all stay in the nest.” From April 12-18, 2015, dozens of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (SMWC) alumni honored their foundress’s words with a worldwide event unlike any other. During the first annual SMWC Week of Service alums across the globe, from Indianapolis to Italy, gave new life to the College’s mission of effecting “positive change in a spirit of service and social responsibility.”

“I’m so impressed that our alums took time out of their busy lives to give back to their communities in the name of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College,” said Susan Turner ’14G, senior director of advancement and alumni relations at SMWC.

SMWC graduates, along with friends and family, participated in nearly 30 different service events during one week in 17 different regions, proving that the drive to give back doesn’t end when one graduates from The Woods.

All across Indiana alums gathered together to serve their communities. In Indianapolis, a group organized a day of activities for residents of Joy’s House, a not-for profit adult day-care facility in the Broad Ripple neighborhood. Another group spent time working with students at St. Roch Catholic School, while other alums took to cleaning up roads and working on community gardens.

The week of service, however, didn’t just stop at the Indiana state line. Other events include:

  • In Cincinnati, Ohio, alums worked together to assemble “Welcome Home Kits" for families transitioning out of homelessness. 
  • Further east, the Philadelphia/Wilmington group of SMWC alums baked goodies for those families staying at the local Ronald McDonald House.
  • Out west, SMWC alums worked on a 24-acre sustainable community garden and park in Phoenix, Ariz.
  • As far away as the Caribbean, alums volunteered as judges in a St. Thomas, USVI, school science fair, while more than 7000 miles away, at the same time, SMWC graduates in Florence, Italy, made food bags, sorted clothes, and served those in need.

Turner, an alumni herself, said she gets goose bumps every time she thinks about all the Woods women coming together for the Week of Service. The connection was tangible and so strong that all alums involved are calling for the event to become an annual celebration.

“The sense of unity and community was so powerful, knowing that we were all representing Mother Theodore and the legacy that she left for the College and the Sisters of Providence,” said SMWC Alumni Board President Claire Thuning-Roberson '67. Born during an October 2014 Alumni Board meeting, organizing and implementing the worldwide Week of Service in just six months was no easy task. Fellow Alumni Board members Amy Frakes ’94 and Roni O’Conner ’88 chaired the committee overseeing the event. They made sure that alums weren’t the only ones involved – students on campus participated in the Week of Service, as well.

“The importance of service has been ingrained in us at SMWC,” Roberson said, “which enables us to affect the world in a united purpose. There is no mistaking a Woods graduate; they know us by our actions.”

SMWC’s Week of Service is part of a yearlong celebration for the College’s 175th anniversary. To learn about more anniversary events, visit the 175th site.

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