UW-Madison graduates make a difference every day, whether through groundbreaking research or lending a hand to a neighbor in need. This holiday season, we thank all the Badgers who strive to make the world a better place, including members of these alumni chapters.
Serving the Community
Once a month, a small group of UW alumni in the Boston area roll up their sleeves to volunteer at Community Servings (CS), a nonprofit that provides home-delivered meals to individuals living with HIV/AIDS. The partnership between Community Servings and the WAA: Boston chapter dates back to 2001.
Chapter leader Jeremy Kasanov says, “Volunteering as a group builds a great sense of camaraderie and community among the Boston Badgers, especially among those who have been attending regularly for many years.”
Mike Massagli PhD’84, another regular volunteer, agrees: “The sense of community by itself is a great thing, but I’ve also found that participation with the CS group keeps me linked to other chapter activities, and supports the Wisconsin Idea, and keeps the New England pipeline to Madison open.”
Bay Beach Fall Cleanup
The Wisconsin football team may have had a bye the weekend of November 3, but UW alumni in the Green Bay area didn’t take a break. Instead, several volunteers spent the day cleaning up the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary: raking leaves and rubbish, winterizing cages and installing heated perches for eagles and hawks.
“Of course it’s fun to watch football or take a trip to Madison together,” says Kelly Fitzgerald MS’06, president of the WAA: Brown County chapter. “But we wanted to find new ways to feed Badger spirit into the community.”
About four years ago, the chapter began organizing regular community-service activities, such as helping out at the wildlife sanctuary and building a Habitat for Humanity house.
And, like other alumni chapters, its members also work to raise scholarship money for future Badgers. “That’s our chance to maintain the Wisconsin Idea,” Fitzgerald says. “UW alumni represent the university by doing good things for our local communities.”
Saturday, December 8, the chapter spread holiday cheer to local shoppers by ringing bells for the Salvation Army. Last year, the Brown County chapter won a challenge against alumni from St. Norbert College and UW-Green Bay by collecting the most donations in an afternoon.
Everything but the Turkey
About a dozen Badgers who live in the Washington, D.C. area came together in November to help prepare Thanksgiving side dishes at DC Central Kitchen for more than 90 local homeless shelters, transitional housing facilities and community kitchens in the city.
Volunteer Jessica Adler ’97 says the WAA: Washington, D.C. chapter tries to organize community-service opportunities at least four times a year, which in the past have included preparing food for those in need, painting at schools and a homeless shelter, and a walk to raise money for kidney cancer research.
“Volunteering is very rewarding and should be an important part of every community,” Adler says, “and in the process, Badgers can bond with each other and have fun. In Judaism, we teach tikkun olam, which means repairing the world, and [it] suggests that we all have responsibility to help heal the world. In community volunteering, Badgers can give back and do their part to heal the world.”
United Run for the Hungry
Before sitting down to Thanksgiving feasts, Badgers Katie Fitzpatrick ’07, Nick Isabella ’03, Amy Flink ’07 and Cheryl Ramancionis laced up their running shoes and hit the streets of San Diego to raise money for local food pantries.
"Giving back to, and supporting the local community, is a strong Badger tradition going back to the Wisconsin idea that education should influence and improve people's lives beyond the classroom," says Christa Eilers '92, president of the WAA: San Diego chapter. "I think that as alumni, we realize the extraordinary advantages we've enjoyed as a result of our education and we are grateful for it."
Football Fans Help the Hungry
UW alumni and friends in Orange County combined school spirit with the spirit of giving all football season long. The WAA: OC Badgers chapter organized their annual food drive to coincide with weekly football viewing parties this season to benefit Share Our Shelves, and Badgers responded with generosity, donating 228 cans and boxes of food, 50 lbs. of personal grooming items, and toys and backpacks.