Waltham Group Newsletter
Message from the Director of Community Service and Waltham Group Advisor
Dear Waltham Group Alumni,
We are so grateful to be a part of such a passionate, dedicated, tight-knit community of volunteers, leaders, partner organizations, and alumni who are all committed to this important work of service, equity, advocacy and systemic change. While COVID-19 certainly shifted our community engagement programs in many ways, COVID wasn’t the only pandemic our communities have been facing. During the 11th Annual MLK Interfaith Day of Service, our campus and local community came together to focus on addressing and overcoming the three pandemics: racism, health disparity and violence.
In addition to this important work, Waltham Group has strengthened its connection with alumni through the founding of the first ever Waltham Group Alumni Network, with the support of Alumni Relations and our newest Alumni Co-Chairs. Once created, this new network will help foster even stronger, more intentional connections between current students and alumni within an organization that we all hold near and dear to our hearts.
It’s times like these that remind us that we are all united in our shared values and love for our community. This moment brought Waltham Group programs, leaders, and volunteers together in ways it never has before. We were reminded that if the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but never the goal. What we stand for as an organization lives on, and that grounds us in this work.
We look forward to seeing what next year holds for us, while keeping the lessons learned and the changes made during this pivotal moment at the forefront of our community engagement. We are wishing all of our alumni a bright and healthy summer, and look forward to connecting with you at the Waltham Group Alumni Network Kickoff Celebration in June!
Lucas Malo & Colby Sim
Waltham Group Alumni Network
We are pleased to announce the launch of the Waltham Group Alumni Network (WGAN). The network is a social, educational and professional group for undergraduate and graduate alumni who have participated in the leadership programs and volunteer opportunities of the Waltham Group. Steered by an advisory team, the Waltham Group Alumni Network serves as a professional network of Brandeis alumni who share a common educational experience, an active interest in service, advocacy and outreach, and a willingness to support current Waltham Group students and their volunteer programs on a local, regional, and national scope.
The WGAN will be steered by our three chairs: Natalie Cazeau10, Hilary Heyison ‘13, and Stephen Scheinthal ‘87 P 16’ P16’. The Waltham Group has also selected two new student reps Zoe Lazar ‘23 and Emory Peng ‘23 to support this work. Stay tuned for more information on how you can apply to join a subcommittee to help advance this new special interest group. To reach out to a member of the team you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR and REGISTER to join us for our kickoff event during Alumni Weekend 2021 on June 12th from 4:30-5:30 on Zoom.
Department of Community Service Headlines
The Department of Community Service is thrilled to announce that we will be rolling out a new service and impact tracking platform called GivePulse this fall. We would like to acknowledge the funding contributions from the Student Union, Graduate Student Affairs, and ITS that have made this investment possible. This spring, with the support of our Connected PhD Fellow, DCS conducted numerous focus groups and surveys with students, community partners, and faculty/staff members in order to redefine what "counts'' as service (e.g. student activism, paid work, on-campus volunteer work, etc.). The findings from these assessments will be utilized by a new Commitment to Service Award Advisory Committee in order to develop new structures for how community engaged work is measured, tracked, and rewarded in this new system. GivePulse will provide Brandeis with an overarching comprehensive picture of our community engagement efforts across the institution, while allowing students to document all of their unique engagements from WG to service learning courses to internships and beyond, and supporting our community partners in connecting students to needs and opportunities at their organizations.
The Department of Community Service (DCS) hosted a 3 part- leadership series for student leaders in Community Service. A nationally renowned group, the Piece Project, came to Brandeis (virtually) to facilitate 3 impactful leadership development workshops. This interactive and reflective program played an important role in shaping and building our teams this year, while providing critical skills that help developed leaders on our campus and in our communities.
Rich/Collins Community Leadership & Impact Fellowship Update
In a year filled with uncertainty and challenges, The Department of Community Service is truly grateful to the Rich/Collins Family for their adaptability, continued generosity, and unwavering commitment to our students and community. This year, we made a few adaptations to the fellowship, including removing the thirty mile geographic radius around the city of Waltham and moving the fellowship to a completely virtual model. These two changes allowed students to safely engage in a variety of communities across the country amidst a global pandemic. Additionally, at the encouragement of the Rich/Collins Family, we highlighted the importance of efforts needed to support COVID-19 relief and racial justice work around the nation. As our students were grappling with the multitude of pandemics plaguing our nation and seeking opportunities to make a difference and build community, we saw both our application numbers and number of applicants double this year. In turn, we were thrilled to be able to provide this truly unique experience to 12 fellows and 9 community partners this year.
Roses in Concrete
The Department of Community Service is excited to launch it’s new Roses in Concrete Mentorship & Leadership Program. It is a new program designed to create a pipeline of mutual support, mentorship, resource sharing and overall community building for intergenerational communities of color in Waltham, specifically between the Waltham Public School, Brandeis University and its alumni. Alumni can volunteer to facilitate a one-time training, serving as a monthly mentor to a student, or join the planning committee. Please email Lucas Malo at email@example.com if you are interested. Special thanks to our partners: Waltham Public Schools, Waltham Black Future Fund, and Waltham Partnership for Youth.
Our logo will be unveiled during the summer. It is being co-created by two amazing graphic designers, Brandeis student Jonathan Joasil and Waltham High school student Alexse LaGuerre.
Virtual Celebration of Service
Celebration of Service looked a bit different this year, as we celebrated our volunteers in both a virtual and in-person format. We kicked off the celebration with the first ever Virtual Celebration of Service. Over 100 students, staff/faculty, family, and friends gathered to recognize all of the amazing community work our volunteers engaged in over the past year. Highlights from the event included remarks from Director of Community Service, Lucas Malo, a “Year in Service Review” video created by one of our talented Community Engagement Ambassadors, reflections from Student Speaker, Anna Badalament ‘20, and a medal ceremony to honor our Commitment to Service Awards Medalists. The following day, the Department of Community Service hosted an in-person Commitment to Service Award Bash outside in one of the tents on campus. The event recognized our senior CTSA medalists, who have recorded over 300 hours of service during their time here at Brandeis. Seniors dropped by to pick up their Commitment to Service Award Medal and Certificate, take a picture in front of the Brandeis backdrop and reflect on their journey through service!
CEAP Changes & Ambassadors
The Community Engagement Ambassador Program (CEAP) had another successful year of programming and coalition-building. With the strengthening of civic and democratic engagement programs, along with the support of activism and advocacy student groups, our definitions of service have been evolving as a department. To reflect this work, next year’s CEAP team will focus on the following areas: Assessment, Advocacy, & Civic Engagement, Partnerships & Community Organizing, Marketing & Campus Outreach, and Training & Volunteer Retention. We are excited to welcome the fourth cohort of Community Engagement Ambassadors this fall!
With the generous support of the MB and Edna Zale Foundation, along with the advocacy of our alumni Elizabeth Asen ‘13 and Josh Asen ‘13, the Brandeis Food Pantry, Hillel and their Challah for Hunger program, the Waltham Group, and the Department of Community Service all teamed up to enhance initiatives addressing food insecurity on our campus, as well as create a vibrant, inclusive food insecurity awareness and education program. In the spirit of this, a series of food justice education programs were created. One of these programs was a panel discussion on the different initiatives at Brandeis that have occurred through the classroom, food pantry and Office of Sustainability, featuring Professor Sara Shostak, Mary Fischer, and Steve Weglinski.
DCS Anti-Racism Plan
During this pivotal year, the Department of Community Service reviewed the Black Action Plan and worked with the authors of BAP to make action steps for the semester ahead in order to continue to ensure we are inclusive and anti-racist, and that our values, core competencies, and learning outcomes are embodied by each of our campus and community partners. You can review the DCS Response and Action Steps to the Black Action Plan here.
Waltham Group Headlines
Student Representatives for the Waltham Group Alumni Network
What is the Student Representative Position?
The student alumni representative position was created to serve as the official student representative for Waltham Group alumni engagement, including liaising between the Waltham Group Alumni Network and current Waltham Group Coordinators/Volunteers as well as supporting the planning and implementation of activities that engage the Waltham Group Alumni Network with current Waltham Group Coordinators and Volunteers. This position will ensure that student voices are heard in these shared interest group conversations and make sure students and alumni are engaging in ways that are helpful and fulfilling for all parties.
Introducing this year’s student representatives: Emory Peng and Zoe Lazar
I'm Emory and I am a sophomore planning on majoring in HSSP and biology and possibly minoring in anthropology and chemistry. I started volunteering with Waltham Group in my first semester at Brandeis and became a coordinator for Prospect Hill Kids' Club last spring. I am also a member of BEMCo, working on a research project with the Heller School, and I'm really passionate about health equity and public health. Outside of school, I love reading, spending time with my friends, and finding new podcasts to listen to. I'm so excited to become more involved with Waltham Group and I can't wait to work with Waltham Group and alumni!
I am Zoe. I am a sophomore majoring in Sociology with minors in Education Studies and Business. I have been volunteering with TAPS (Teaching Assistants in Public Schools) since my first semester at Brandeis and a coordinator for more than a year! I am involved with Education for Students by Students on campus and spend a lot of time working with outside organizations focused on educational equity and progressive legislation. Outside of academics and volunteering, I love to bake, sit at the ocean and find new shows on Netflix. I also talk about being from NYC a lot so I am sorry in advance! I am thrilled to begin helping connect our coordinators and volunteers with our incredible alumni network.
Potential Year At A Glance For WGAN and Waltham Group:
As the Waltham Group Alumni Network evolves and develops, so will its involvement with current Waltham Group coordinators and volunteers. Currently we envision annual social and volunteering events between alumni and current Waltham Group students both in person and virtually. As we solidify the means in which Waltham Group members can communicate with alumni, we hope alumni will attend, support and speak at training and programming hosted by individual programs and the whole organization that fit with their interests and or career paths. Finally, we want to make sure current Waltham Group programs and members are being featured and presented with the opportunity to present their work to alumni who once worked with their programs and maybe now works or volunteers in similar areas/ways.
Waltham Group Education Panels
Waltham Group and the Hiatt Career Center co-sponsored an Employer & Alumni Career Panel: advancing your career through year-in-service programs.
Waltham Group hosted the first ever Prejudice in Community Engagement panel. You can watch a recording of the panel here. The panel hosted five panelists with experience from as nearby as Waltham and as far away as Uganda for a discussion about how to truly engage in a community and how to acknowledge and overcome the hazards of volunteering.
Waltham Group Houses & Community Action Programs
This year, the programs in each of the four Waltham Group Houses worked together to host Community Action Programs, also known as CAP. These programs are designed to educate, advocate, and otherwise further the work on the larger systemic issues our programs are designed to address.
What are the Waltham Group Houses?House 1 represents Health & Human Services, including Blood Drive, Brandeis Buddies, Companions to Elders, and Hospital Helpers (renamed Advocates for Health).
House 2 represents Mentoring & Tutoring, including Big Siblings, General Tutoring, Language Empowering Action Project, SPECTRUM, and Teaching Assistants in Public Schools.
House 3 represents Housing, Environment, & Advocacy, including Community Connections, Habitat for Humanity, Hunger & Homelessness, Service Without Borders, and Symbiosis. Last but not least,
House 4 represents Afterschool Programs, including Afternoon Enrichment, Language and Cultural Enrichment, Junior Brandeis Achievers, Kids Connection, and Prospect Hill Kids’ Club.
- House 1: Health & Advocacy Panel - a discussion with health researchers and medical providers about the effect of the pandemic on health inequality.
- House 2: Volunteering & COVID-19 Education Realities - a conversation with stakeholders in the Waltham Education community to begin considering this big question: How can volunteers fit into the educational realities of Waltham teachers, students and parents?
- House 3: Extreme Weather Events and Community Wellness - a discussion on environment, community, justice, housing, and health.
- House 4: Panel on Identity and Implicit Bias - a panel about how to approach and conduct conversations about race with volunteers and the students we engage with.
Introducing the newest Waltham Group program!
ACT (Advocates for Community Transformation) was voted to become the newest Waltham Group program. Over the summer, current Waltham Group Coordinators designed programming in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, worked with MassVOTE and VoteDeis to register and educate voters, and published action items on the Department of Community Service instagram page and in the This Week In Service email. This program seeks to help Waltham Group reconnect to its social justice roots with the addition of an advocacy focused program. ACT will work in conjunction with various local organizations, Brandeis groups, and other Waltham Group programs and service clubs on various projects and community initiatives to enact systemic change.
Jasnam Sachathep '12
What were you involved with on campus as an undergrad? (e.g. major, Waltham Group program, other?)
As per my nature, I am an extremely active person who always finds something to do. Apart from pursuing a double major in Economics and International Global Studies, I was a CA for two years and also an active member of many clubs/groups. I stayed connected to my roots through SASA and Namaskar and satisfied my drive to make a difference through programs such as Habitat for Humanity, General Tutoring and visits to homeless shelters. I also worked two jobs on the side! Read the full interview here.
Advocates for Health (A4H)
Advocates for Health offers volunteer programs for public health service in the Waltham community. We work with three main community partners: Healthy Waltham, CareOne, and The Family Van. To read more about Advocates for Health, click here.
Junior Brandeis Achievers
JBA provides free after school programming for students at Stanley and Plympton elementary school for five to six weeks in the Fall and Spring. Brandeis students are able to lead a variety of clubs with lesson plans that they design to engage students in activities such as cooking, art and science. To read more about JBA’s work this year, click here.
- General Tutoring had 125 tutor and tutee matches this past year.
- Waltham Group Blood Drive and Habitat for Humanity created newsletters focused on education and advocacy during COVID.
- The Waltham Group Fundraising squad hosted the first ever publicly televised Waltham Family School Read-A-Thon, helping to raise over $7,000 for the Waltham Family School to promote family literacy.
- Prospect Hill Kids' Club launched a new website for their virtual afterschool programming.
- Language Empowering Action Project (LEAP) introduced a new community partnership with the Waltham Public Library this year. Through this partnership, LEAP offered three new options for English Language Learning every day of the week, including an introduction to English course, conversation hours, and weekly movie nights with facilitated discussions by the LEAP volunteers.
- Companions to Elders offered a range of programming this year, including hosting a Dementia Friends training, phone banking to enfranchise older voters in Florida, hosting monthly virtual Memory Cafés, running a series of letter writing programs with elder companions, and reuniting with their longtime community partner after the space closed down this past year: The Leland Home. Leland has transitioned from a physical assisted living facility to at-home care, but the former residents are continuing their relationships with our volunteers as phone buddies.
- Brandeis Buddies offered weekly virtual programs for their Buddies with Opportunities for Inclusion this year, as well as a range of educational and advocacy events, including an Inclusive Clear Mask Initiative. For more information on how the pandemic has affected people with disabilities, check out Brandeis Buddies’ handout.
Welcome New Alumni
Brandeis Class of 2021, welcome to your first edition of the Waltham Group Alumni Newsletter. We want to acknowledge that you had a unique transition from Brandeis this graduation and that we are committed to find ways to continue to celebrate each of you. As our newest readers and alumni community change agents, we hope that your commitment to our community will come to life in new ways as you enter into new or familiar communities. The Waltham Group holds a special place in our hearts and we hope that this newsletter allows you to stay connected with your volunteer programs, Waltham, your peers, and the Department of Community Service. As new alumni and part of Brandeis history, you remain a part of Waltham Group. Please join our Brandeis University Waltham Group Alumni LinkedIn page here and be in touch if there is any way that we can support you. #WG4LIFE
The success of the Waltham Group is due to our active and engaged students. As alumni, we hope that you will continue to stay involved and support the Waltham Group.
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