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Alumni Connection
Caring Coast to Coast

“You could really see the difference at the end of the day,” Krissy Pisanelli '97 reported after the Washington, D.C. Catamounts Care event on May 7. Alumni, parents, and friends joined forces to clean-up, paint, and do grounds work at an elementary school in D.C.'s Anacostia neighborhood. And so it went across the country during the first annual Catamounts Care Service Project as fellow UVMers set out to make their own differences at the end of the day.

Back in Burlington, Alumni Association President Frank Cioffi '77 rallied a large group of volunteers around the fountain on the UVM Green. Cioffi made special note of the late Ellie McNamara '58, who worked with Linda Drumheller '76 and Jerry Heller '59 to get Catamounts Care off the ground. “Ellie was a driving force for getting UVM involved in all of our communities,” Cioffi said. Then volunteers grouped up, plastic bags in hand, to fan out across Burlington and take part in Vermont's annual Green Up Day.
A strong showing of UVM students joined the alumni volunteering for the day. Many varsity teams were in the mix, including the skiing, hockey, field hockey, and lacrosse squads, among others. Think Colchester Avenue looks tidy? Thank a cluster of graduate students from the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. They kept themselves entertained during the trash collection by imagining the intricate GIS maps that could be created to document distribution of tossed cigarette butts and Dunkin Donuts cups. Call it whistling while you work grad-student style.

That same spirit of fun and camaraderie combined with service to make for great days throughout the country.

Time passes quickly among friends, even when faced with sorting a semi-trailer packed with produce. Dana Demas '98 and Sam Jung '84 combined to organize the day of repackaging food for distribution to hunger agencies. Demas reels off the contents - onions, potatoes, celery, peanuts, lettuce, apples, beets, ginger root; well, you get the idea. Though it was three hours of hard work, she says it only seemed like an hour or so, and participants left satisfied with work well done and eager for future Chicago events.

UVMers have helped out annually for the past several years at Boston's Pine Street Inn agency for the homeless, where alumna Lyndia Downie '82 heads up the operation. Linking that annual event with Catamounts Care upped the participation to a new high, says Jon Burke '80, who helped organize the Boston event. Some 30 UVM alumni, parents, and families turned out to put in a good four hours.

It wouldn't be the Pacific Northwest without some concern about the rain, but Kathy Biscardi '88 reports that showers cleared up and all registered volunteers turned out for a day of working at Marra Farm, which grows fresh produce for distribution to food shelves. Like many sites nationwide, Seattle included a number of alumni with their kids in tow, and the extra hands made quick work of the weeding chores.

New York City
Some 20 NYC-area alums shared their professional experience at a career planning forum with students from three high schools in the Bronx connected with the University through innovative urban partnership programs. “For almost 3 hours, alums talked about how to evaluate career options, how to land that first summer job and how a formal education — starting freshman year — will affect the process,” Ken Mazer ’85 reports. He adds that the event was a success for both students and alums — and plans are already on to do it again next year.

For a complete recap and photos from all the sites, please visit alumni.uvm.edu/catamounts_care.