At the University of Rochester, Wilson Day has been a cherished tradition for over 30 years. Wilson Day is a series of activities focused on Rochester and community engagement. This format gives newly arrived students in-person opportunities to connect with and learn about the Rochester community.
August 20th, 2021, officially known as Wilson 2021, was a memorable day for the Friends of Mount Hope. We hosted 22 U of R students on their second day at the university. These students all lived on the same residence floor, and their leader was their RA, an enthusiastic upper classman named Isaiah.
Their service project at Mount Hope was to clean gravestones in our Civil War plot. They attacked the project with excitement, each person taking a row of stones to clean. They followed the directions precisely, and they all agreed that “it was fun.” We gave them information about Mount Hope Cemetery, which would be their neighbor for the next four years. Some of the students had never thought of a cemetery being a “cool place,” but hopefully we were able to change their minds!
They worked so intently that they were able to also clean all the stones in the Firemen’s Section as well. While the weather was stifling and humid, we heard no complaints and no one asked for a break! While all this hard work was proceeding, the sounds of laughter and camaraderie filled the air. This group of students, who had been strangers to each other the day before, were getting to know each other and bonding. The birth of these new friendships was a wonderful passage to observe – the beginning of their four years at the University of Rochester.
We invited the students to return for tours and events at Mount Hope, and bring their families as well. They agreed that they would love to come to volunteer as well. As I talked to each student, I was impressed at their gratitude for having the opportunity to attend the U of R. It was humbling!
Our thanks to the organizers of this experience at the University of Rochester: Glenn Cerosaletti, Mary Beth Spinelli, and Raymond Diaz. And a giant shout out to our FOMH volunteers, Valerie O’Hara, Tony Filer, and Tom Jones, who organized this activity, hopefully the first of many more.