Waltham Group Newsletter
Message from the Director of Community Service and Waltham Group Advisor
Dear Waltham Group Alumni,
Every year, we are reminded of the brilliance, kindness, and passion that exists within our Waltham Group family, and it fuels and energizes our community engagement in new and exciting ways. Waltham Group kicked off the year with a running start. Over 400 students came out to our first in-person Waltham Group Recruitment Night in well over a year, and hundreds of students have continued to engage with Waltham Group as mentors, tutors, buddies, companions, advocates, activists, and agents of social change. During a time when students are seeking purpose, connection and belonging more than ever, the Waltham Group has provided outlets for students to connect with each other and the community.
While WG has transitioned from virtual to more in-person community engagement this year, we haven't left the lessons learned from the pandemic behind us. Waltham Group Coordinators have continued teaching hybrid adult ESL classes, offering virtual tutoring options to kids and their families, connecting with elders as phone buddies and through virtual Memory Cafés, writing educational newsletters, and advocating behind the scenes for our community partners, making programs even more accessible to our community. Waltham Group and the Department of Community Service have redefined and expanded our definitions of community service to include advocacy, civic engagement, activism, and education. In the spirit of uplifting advocacy initiatives in Waltham Group, this year we welcomed in the 20th Waltham Group program, Advocates for Community Transformation (ACT), along with a brand new Community & Social Justice Coordinator position on E-Board.
While change has been a constant for the past year and a half, our commitment to the Waltham Group mission has remained consistent. We are so excited to see the Waltham Group Alumni Network (WGAN) come to life, thanks to the hard work of our 3 outstanding Chairs (Hilary Heyison, Natalie Cazeau, and Stephen Scheinthal), the WGAN committee members, and Alumni Relations. We know that the possibilities are limitless, and we are eager to support and uplift the efforts of this group in the years to come.
We are wishing all of our alumni a happy holiday season and new year, and look forward to continuing to reunite and connect with all of our incredible alumni in 2022.Best wishes,
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’. To reach out to a member of the team you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Department of Community Service Headlines
The Department of Community Service launched a new community engagement platform for all Brandeisians called EngageDeis this fall. This university-wide platform (replacing SAGE) allows users to find service opportunities on campus and in the community, track service hours, and create a unique service story that can be shared with potential employers and/or graduate programs.
EngageDeis creates new and exciting opportunities for students to connect, engage, and serve in the community. Community partners and Brandeis faculty/staff have the ability to create and manage events through the platform, allowing students to find service clubs and opportunities in one centralized place. In addition, the EngageDeis platform makes tracking service hours more efficient so students can tell their Brandeis service story.
If your nonprofits have service opportunities you would like to share with students, please reach out to email@example.com to get connected on our platform. tform.
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
Roses in Concrete is a Leadership & Mentorship Program for BIPOC college and Waltham high School students The program hopes to foster educational, leadership, mentorship, and professional development opportunities. This fall, Roses in Concrete provided an alum or community mentor and workshops (code-switching, affirming BIPOC spaces, financial literacy, mental health and more) for 17 Brandeis undergraduate students. In the spring the undergraduates will channel their acquired leadership skills to mentor Waltham High School students. This program was made possible with a partnership with the Intercultural Center, Waltham Partnership for Youth (WPY), Waltham Black Future Fund. Together and the Louis. D Brandeis Legacy Fund.
Service & Leadership Pre-Orientation
In its second year, the program actively engaged new students in discovering how service can
become part of their identity at Brandeis, while gaining the tools you need to become a leader in your new community. Participants actively engaged in a community service project at the Prospect Hill Community Center, discovered and reflected on the diverse populations, perspectives, and roles that exist in the Waltham and greater Boston communities; developed leadership skills; and become part of a community committed to personal growth through service and reflection. Students explored the city of Waltham through the lens of community engagement, social justice, and local activism while building relationships with prominent student leaders, faculty members, and community partners who are actively engaged in this work. Participants left the program with the connections, skills, and knowledge to jump into service at Brandeis and have a positive impact on their new community.
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!
Waltham Group Team Day happened in-person for the first time in over a year on Sunday, September 19 from 9am-2:30pm, and was a great way to set the tone for a new year in Waltham Group. Team Day is a traditional Waltham Group event that happens once a semester (Fall & Spring), typically on a Sunday during the first month of school. It's a day for all Waltham Group leaders to unite as a team across all 20 programs and learn and grow together. Team Day includes essential training workshops, team building, risk management, professional development, and fun activities to support and enhance our community engagement, leadership, and social justice mission. Team Day is also an important opportunity for Coordinators to learn more about the Waltham Group and get to know its many members.
VolunteerFest 2021 (our annual kickoff to service event) was even more special this year as we transitioned back to in-person service and activism. This year we had a record 400 participants engage in VolunteerFest, which was held in the Usdan Student Center on Saturday, August 28 from 1:30pm to 3:30pm. Over 20 local community service organizations and Brandeis groups hosted a table with a community service or social justice project that served a need to their organization, including the Waltham Public Library, Jewish Family and Children's Service, Waltham Partnership for Youth, Cradles to Crayons, REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, Brandeis Buddies & Opportunities for Inclusion, Junior Brandeis Achievers, Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative, Watch CDC, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Prospect Hill Kids' Club, Big Siblings, Habitat for Humanity, Africano Waltham, The Right to Immigration Institute, Healthy Waltham, Food not Bombs, Vote Deis, Women of Color Alliance, Brandeis FRESH Food Pantry, Waltham Boys and Girls Club, Brandeis Asian American Students Association, Buddy Dog, Symbiosis, and Hunger and Homelessness.
Waltham Group Recruitment Night
This year's Waltham Group Recruitment Night, which happened in-person on Thursday, September 9th from 7:00-8:30pm in Sherman Function Hall, was a huge success! We had over 400 people in attendance, and our 20 Waltham Group programs had record volunteer sign ups. You can view a post on the Brandeis University Facebook Page linked here!
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.
WGAN Leadership Team
We are excited to introduce the leadership Team of the Waltham Group Alumni Network (WGAN). The team comprises of a network which is a social, educational and professional group for undergraduate and graduate alumni who have participated in the leadership programs, 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. See the full team here.
Hunger & Homelessness
This fall, we were able to host a successful Halloween for the Hungry food drive for the first time in two years! We had many volunteers from Brandeis collect donations from the Waltham community. We were able to donate over 30 bags of nonperishable goods to the Middlesex Human Services Agency. Unfortunately, since we hold many events in the Waltham community, we were unable to do most of our regular programming last year during the height of the pandemic. However, we still wanted to do what we could for the Community Day Center of Waltham (CDCW), so we created engaging fundraising events such as a cooking show and a ballroom dance class! We were also able to hold our points drive, which takes place entirely within Brandeis. Fort this event, students donate food from the C-store using their leftover points. We are grateful that we have been able to progress forward through the pandemic and are at a time where we can hold all our events again. We are working on some new and exciting things for next semester and are looking forward to seeing us grow!
Prospect Hill Kid's Club
"During COVID-19, Prospect Hill Kids’ Club transitioned into a completely virtual program. Fun activities and materials were distributed to the kids in Prospect Hill Terrace, and volunteers and kids attended weekly online sessions to do activities with the materials. This year, we are back to volunteering in person! We’re proud of how we adapted to the COVID restrictions that limited our volunteers and posed other novel challenges. While it was difficult, we were able to adapt and put on a great semester of programming. We even started Prospect Hill Olympics, where teams of students compete in educational and community building activities for a prize! We are extremely proud of our new library system with over 2000 books, which took almost 4 years to create. The library is housed at the Prospect Hill Community Center for all the kids to access. In the last 5 years, our programming has shifted to have a greater focus on reading and developing the library was a part of this initiative."
The circumstances around the pandemic forced us to go virtual with several of our programs and halted our relationships with other community partners since in-person, off-campus events were no longer an option. Starting our programs back up this semester has offered a series of new challenges from communication with community partners to managing safety procedures. However, this has given us an opportunity to expand our programing and reinvent what climate justice activism means to us. We are proud of maintaining our partnerships as well as expanding and finding new ones. We really worked on having meetings and finding programs that our mission and theirs aligned. We also really have been thinking about intersectionality and our impact on the community as a whole, and how Brandeis can improve- not just the Waltham community but looking at our own university campus. We are focusing on environmental education and awareness, we used to focus more on animals however with the changing climate we have begun to adapt and really try and find things that are impactful on our community. We also have had an increase in interest this past year, which has been exciting, and has led us to grow as an organization and try to expand in order to provide more volunteering opportunities. Symbiosis had a wonderful fall semester and we cannot wait to see what the spring semester brings!
- Waltham Group welcomed 29 new Coordinators in Training (CITs) into the Waltham Group Coordinator family this semester.
- The Waltham Group Blood Drive happened for the first time in well over a year on 10/28. We had 47 Brandeis donors and collected 55 pints of blood for the American Red Cross.
- Waltham Group was well represented at this year's Kindness day Service Fair. Habitat for Humanity and Symbiosis painted birdhouses filled with positive affirmations for the community, Big Siblings made bookmarks for kids, Advocates for Community Transformation hosted letters to legislators, and Companions to Elders made goodie bags for Maristhill Nursing & Rehabilitation Center residents.
- General Tutoring had 110 active tutor and tutee matches this semester,
- Language Empowering Action Project (LEAP) offered programming Monday through Friday this fall for adult English Language Learners in partnership with the Waltham Public Library, including Beginning English courses, Conversation Hours, and Movie Night.
- Habitat for Humanity hosted 6+ builds and service projects at the ReStore this semester. They will be hosting their first Alternative Spring Break in well over a year in Winston-Salem, North Carolina from February 20th - 26th, 2022.
- Teaching Assistants in Public Schools (TAPS) is expanding to two new community partnerships next spring: McDevitt Middle School in Waltham and Boston Partners in Education.
Welcome New Alumni
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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Check out the new B Connect! This tool is a powerful networking and mentorship hub within the trusted Brandeis community. With B Connect you can find a mentor (or become one), expand your network, search for new career opportunities, reconnect with old friends and make new ones. Sign-up is quick and easy, and will give you exclusive access to a robust Brandeis network. Don’t forget to check out and join the Waltham Group Alumni Network B Connect group.