Mary Cronin ‘22
After over a year of solely virtual engagement, Student Programs for Urban Development (SPUD) was finally able to host a Recruitment Night to recruit volunteers for the 2021-2022 school year. Covid-19 made volunteering at sites throughout Worcester impossible, but SPUD was finally able to get many of their programs running in person again. This event brought a sense of normalcy back to the Holy Cross community, gathering the largest student organization together on campus in the Hogan Ballroom for the first time since 2019. Masks and all, students were eager to start the process of engaging with the Worcester community through service again, getting to choose one of over forty sites to volunteer at. SPUD student leaders, consisting of Interns, Program Directors, and Community Organizers worked extremely hard to make the recruitment event possible and successful this year.
SPUD embodies the Jesuit ideal of being “men and women for and with others,” giving students the opportunity to become a part of their Worcester community. They provide a variety of service options, from serving meals, to mentoring children, to spending time with the elderly, providing something for anyone interested in getting involved. SPUD emphasizes forming meaningful relationships with the people they work with, creating a worthwhile experience for everyone participating. Not only do students get the chance to take part in service, but they also have the ability to think deeply and reflect about the various injustices that are prevalent not only in our community, but also in the world. After a year plagued by a global pandemic, SPUD hosting their recruitment night is important for increased student involvement in a meaningful extracurricular activity, but it also allows these critical reflections to occur again.
The Hogan Ballroom was full of artistic, informational posters and the voices of enthusiastic Program Directors explaining their sites to excited students. Each interested volunteer registered through myHC and received a time slot to come to the fair in order to abide by Covid protocols and avoid large crowds. SPUD Co-Program Director for the Free Health Clinic site, Carolyn Dunderdale ‘22, shared her reaction to recruitment night, saying, “It is thrilling to see so many students who were interested in signing up for SPUD, especially given that underclassmen haven’t seen our program fully in action before. After 50 years at Holy Cross, SPUD recruitment is quite efficient, and seeing the new changes that emphasize community organization and addressing systemic issues gives a refreshed activism that we need.” She highlights the importance of getting underclassmen involved given their unusual start to their college experience, while also emphasizing the significant shift regarding activism and community organizing within the SPUD program.
Despite having to wear masks and arrive in organized groups, the Covid regulations did not put a damper on things. SPUD intern Michaela Lake ‘22 said, “This fair felt very similar to the fair that I last attended pre-Covid. It was nice to see all of the sites on display and to feel that in-person connection to service once again.” After being stuck at a computer screen for over a year, SPUD recruitment night got people involved in and excited about in person activities, and more importantly, got them thinking about making a difference in their communities again.”