A group of Grade 11 students, alumnae, faculty and staff worked side by side to pack supplies and deliver a “Midnight Run” for homeless individuals.
After researching several local organizations and voting their freshman year, the students chose Midnight Run as the focus of their service projects in the Upper School. Midnight Run, according to its website, is a volunteer organization “dedicated to finding common ground between the housed and the homeless.” It helps distribute food, clothing, blankets and toiletries to those struggling with homelessness in New York City.
Nancy Grey, Upper School Dean of Student Life and Leadership and French teacher, said she and Danielle Passno, Director of Outreach and Public Purpose and mathematics teacher, guided the students on how to think about social inequity in the city they live in and some practical steps to take to address it. The class did its first run around this time a year ago, and this winter, the students held an additional event: a breakfast where they served 50 clients.
The Spence School is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, and one of the ways the School is honoring this milestone is through 125 Acts of Service. Students in the three divisions have been challenged throughout the year to find ways to serve others. And alumnae, upon hearing about the 125 Acts of Service, wanted to find out how to serve with the Spence community.
“The alumnae really wanted to get involved in service and meet some of the students, so this was a really good way for everyone to come together,” Grey said.
Alumnae worked with the students in the Lecture Hall to pack up toiletries, prepare 100 bagged meals and fold new and donated clothes.
Around 9:15 p.m., Spence students, teachers and alumnae packed the supplies into cars and made four stops at designated areas where homeless individuals know they can go to pick up items. Their last stop ended around midnight.
Denise Burrell-Stinson ’91, a member of the Alumnae Association Board of Directors and a co-chair of the diversity committee, was one of the alumnae who went on the Midnight Run. Burrell-Stinson said it was an honor and a privilege to work with a group “so earnestly committed to expanding the range of voices and perspectives represented at Spence.”
An active Spence alumna, Burrell-Stinson said she was looking for a way to work directly with students who were interested in making a difference. She described the students who were involved in the Midnight Run as organized, respectful and fun to talk to, and she thanked the students, faculty and organizers for putting together a meaningful event.
“As I had hoped and expected, it was a moving event,” she said. “When you put sorely needed goods right into the hands of men and women that need them, you look into their faces and see one that looks just like you or someone you love. At one point, we were distributing clean underwear, clothes and food to Midnight Run program participants as a fancy party was letting out on Park Avenue. The distance between need and opulence was only a few feet. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all that I had in my life but committed to making sure others have access to opportunity as well.”