Vanderbilt has a longstanding commitment to community service, including strong student traditions such as Alternative Spring Break and supporting areas of need in the Nashville area. In March 2019, the Vanderbilt Alumni Association celebrated that passion with a new monthlong series, Commodores in the Community, to extend the collective impact of the global Vanderbilt alumni network.
Liam Byrne, BA’14, community service chair for the Metro New York Vanderbilt Chapter, explains the deep interest alumni have in community service.
“We are all so lucky for the opportunities that Vanderbilt has afforded us, and every alumnus I encounter shares a similar desire to pay those opportunities forward for their communities,” Byrne said.
The Metro New York Chapter organized three Commodores in the Community projects for the Bowery Mission, an organization that serves New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, hunger and other crises. Despite an early, and snowy, Saturday morning start, alumni enthusiastically arrived ready to lend a helping hand.
“Our first event took place at 8 a.m. after a full night of snowfall, and we still had all of our volunteers show up with smiles on their faces and an eagerness to help those in need,” Byrne said.
In total, 12 chapters led volunteer efforts during March, including school assistance and food bank support, among others. Additionally, alumni in 21 cities hosted Alternative Spring Break students for dinner while the students were in town for their projects. The Student Alumni Board members also were introduced to this new alumni program by joining Nashville Chapter G.O.L.D. alumni to sort and package food donations for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.