The 2022 Michigan Law Alumni and Friends Service Day rallied volunteers for a day of community building and giving back at sites as far apart as Anchorage, the Hawaiian island of Oahu, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Building on Michigan Law’s tradition of Service Day for incoming 1Ls, the annual event, which was held this year for the first time since 2019, encourages volunteers to connect with other alumni in the area and spend a day serving their community.
In Anchorage, alumni and their guests gathered at Ruth Arcand Municipal Park to pick up trash on a hiking trail and a section of green space. The event was timed to help kick off the city’s annual cleanup initiative, a month-long municipal collaboration between local government and businesses in the area. Alumni ranging from the Class of 1980 all the way to the Class of 2021 found their way to the staging site by following maize and blue flags that had been placed along the entrance of the park.
“We planned the event to offer a glorious spring day outdoors, building on our shared history as graduates, professionals, and neighbors to inspire that gathering, and caring for this incredible space created by our community to maintain these connections,” said Sara Taylor, ’11, who organized the event with Erin Dougherty Lynch, ’08, and Pearl Pickett, ’13. “I could not imagine a better event for a better venue, and it came through seamlessly.”
In Hawaii, M. Wong, ’84, coordinated a volunteer event at Waimea Valley Park, a nature area on the north shore of Oahu with historical and cultural significance. Volunteers participated in efforts to preserve and maintain the park’s extensive collections of native plants and cultural sites.
“U-M Law was represented by four eager volunteers, working in a taro patch to help conserve approximately 150 varieties of taro used to make poi. The taro patch serves as a conservation library, and it is estimated that the ancient Hawaiians had 300 varieties,” said Wong. “The day started with a traditional oli (chant), greeting the valley and asking for permission to enter, and included historic and cultural information. We concluded with a visit to Laniakea Beach on the North Shore, with visits with honu, which are Hawaiian green sea turtles. We are looking for more volunteers for 2023!”
Three members of the Class of 2008—Luke Meier, Megan Meier, and Matt Raymer—spearheaded the volunteer efforts in Washington, D.C. Participants met at East Capitol Farm, which provides underserved communities with access to fresh produce and other healthy foods, and is operated by the University of the District of Columbia's College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability & Environmental Sciences.
“The day was a big success. Eleven adults weeded the community garden while five kids enthusiastically created what they called a ‘bugatarium’ for all the worms, roly-polys, and grubs we found,” said Megan Meier. “After the COVID hiatus, it was a delight to reconnect with old friends and to meet new ones.”
Mitoshi Fujio-White, ’07, and Richard Helzberg, ’65, organized a day of volunteering at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in Marin County, just outside of San Francisco. Attendees contributed to a straw mulching project that will help restore and preserve critical natural areas in the county. Helzberg, who has been involved with Alumni and Friends Service Day for many years, cheered the event’s success. “It was a blast, actually, maybe the best ever going back 11 years or so. It turned out to be a great success!”
As pandemic conditions improve, and regular programming in the Law Quad and around the country continues to resume, the Law School hopes to build on this year’s Alumni and Friends Service Day and expand the program to more cities in 2023, equaling or surpassing pre-pandemic participation. “Service Day is a great Michigan Law tradition, and we missed it for the last two years,” said Laura Gray, director of development and alumni relations events at the Law School. “It was so exciting that our local alumni communities were once again able to get together and give back.”