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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Clubs-In-Service bridges gap between Brandeis and Waltham

Published: January 22, 2010
Section: Features

In Service: Seniors Nate Rosenblum and Jenna Brofsky discuss how they help Brandeis athletic and preformance groups serve the Waltham community.<br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoo</i>

In Service: Seniors Nate Rosenblum and Jenna Brofsky discuss how they help Brandeis athletic and preformance groups serve the Waltham community.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoo

Community, opportunity and justice–these are three prominent aspects of the Brandeis campus that are thought to define its ideology. When praising their school, Brandeisians often mention these ideals. But when it comes down to translating these principles into reality, some find it hard to combine all three and still produce concrete results.

Not anymore. These three ideas were recently combined in the form of a single outlet: Clubs-in-Service, a community service based initiative brought alive in part by the hard work and determination of Jenna Brofsky ’10 and Nate Rosenblum ’10. The initiative encourages and helps strategize collaborative efforts between clubs and student organizations on the Brandeis campus in order to directly connect with the Waltham community through combined volunteer efforts.

“It’s effective to mobilize people through the clubs they’re involved in on campus,” Brofsky said.

The Clubs-in-Service initiative was started in 2008 under then-Student Union President, Jason Gray ’10. Student coordinators Brofsky and Rosenblum both became involved in the fall of 2009 based on similar campus involvement focused on community service: Brofsky serves as director of community advocacy for the Student Union and Rosenblum is on the Waltham Group’s Budget and Steering Committee.

“Jenna and I [became involved] in an effort to take the initiative to the next level,” Rosenblum said. “It was a clear partnership for the two of us to work together.”

Brofsky and Rosenblum joined forces with a group of four to six students to further develop the initiative, which has been running successfully for a year now. The team recognized the potential of sports teams to get involved in community service. Earlier, the team put together presentations that Brofsky and Rosenblum presented to the athletic staff administration in November.

“Sports teams and performance groups at Brandeis…are very talented and have the opportunity to provide a lot of wonderful service to our community,” Rosenblum said.

The positive feedback from the administration provided further support for Brofsky and Rosenblum.

“Many coaches seemed incredibly excited about the initiative and looked forward to getting their team involved in the coming semester,” Rosenblum said. “[They were] inquisitive about how the program worked and how to get involved as well as the types of projects their teams could do.”

At its core, Clubs-in-Service involves tapping into the needs of the Waltham community. Brofsky explained just how Waltham can improve with the help of Clubs-in-Service.

“[The program] forms a relationship with Waltham,” she said. “No one realizes that Waltham is a community that could really benefit from the resources we have at Brandeis.”

However, both Brofsky and Rosenblum agree that although many Brandeis community members applaud the concept of organizing community service events, few have directly participated in community service efforts that Clubs-in-Service seeks to collaborate.

“Everyone likes the idea in theory but in practice, it’s difficult to get involved,” Brofsky said.

Brofsky further explained how more clubs can participate in order to make Clubs-in-Service a more recognized and rooted initiative on campus.

“In order to be successful, we rely on clubs to reach out. We need these clubs to step up to the plate,” she said.

But to facilitate a successful partnership, Brofsky said, the needs of the Waltham community need to be voiced loud and clear so that proper help can be provided.

“We need Waltham to tell us what [it] needs,” she said.

To do so, Rosenblum explained how any Waltham-based agency in need of additional support can go online to the Brandeis homepage and fill out a volunteer support request form. The Department of Community Service and Community Connections Waltham Group will then respond with information about Brandeis community members or organizations who wish to help.

The Clubs-in-Service initiative assists behind the scenes in this process by figuring out which clubs are willing to help and organizing efforts between clubs.

Clubs on campus who are in need of volunteer support for a service project in Waltham can also approach Clubs-in-Service and fill out a volunteer request form. Clubs-in-Service will then strategize with clubs with similar needs and give them the support needed to hold a successful event.

“We pair people up,” Rosenblum said.

He further explained an example of Cubs-in-Service. Cooking Club and Waltham Group’s Kids Club have been featured in the spotlight on clubs and service for their recent collaboration. The Waltham Kids Club is an after school program that brings kids from the Waltham area to the Brandeis campus for fun and educational programs. The Cooking Club and Kids Club both collaborated effectively to hold a successful Healthy Eating and Food Week. Cooking Club volunteers made healthy snacks with the kids and spoke to them about healthy eating habits.

Yet, although community is an integral part of the Brandeis campus, it has not been embraced as much as the Clubs-in-Service student coordinators would like. Rosenblum explained how Brandeis members can come together to create a profound effect on the Waltham community.

“We would love to have each club participate in at least one project every year,” he said. “The possibilities to benefit our community are endless and the needs are great, [so] if each club took a few hours every year to help …we would provide an incredibly beneficial impact on Waltham.”