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Community and Connection: SNHU Global Days of Service Marks 9th Year

A group of 14 volunteers at 2 alpacas at the Joppa Hill Farm Spring Maintenance service project during Global Days of Service

Every spring, the Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) community unites for the SNHU Global Days of Service (GDS). This two-month initiative brings together alumni, students, faculty, staff and volunteers to create real change in their communities.

As SNHU concludes its ninth year, it celebrates the remarkable impact and collective dedication of all who participated.

Making a Difference Across the Map

This year, 1,550 volunteers contributed more than 10,000 hours of service, impacting 239 organizations from Manchester, New Hampshire, to San Antonio, Texas, to the Arctic.

Service projects took place across 47 U.S. states, Guam and five countries. GDS welcomed back 28 site leaders and introduced 25 new site leaders this year.

Instilling the Values of Community Service Early and Often

For some SNHU alumni, giving back has long been a part of their lives, and they're thankful to continue the tradition of philanthropy through GDS.

Alumni Board President Aarron Dupuis ’19MBA has a long-standing commitment to both SNHU's Global Days of Service (GDS) and volunteering in his community. "From a young age, my parents instilled in me the value of community service, and it's become an integral part of my identity,” Dupuis said. “For me, giving back isn't just a duty; it's a fundamental aspect of being human."

Four volunteers standing outside of the New Hampshire Food Bank during SNHU's Global Days of ServiceThis year, he led the NH Food Bank Kitchen Prep project. The New Hampshire Food Bank serves as the only food bank in the state, working to provide nutritious food and resources to the hundreds of thousands of New Hampshire residents who are food insecure.

"Working with partners like the Food Bank has been a game-changer," Dupuis said. "They make it easy for us to get things done and keep the momentum going even after GDS wraps up."

Dupuis was joined by 10 members of the SNHU community as they worked together to help with food prep, cooking, clean-up and several other ways to ensure meals got out the door.

As he sees it, GDS is more than just a yearly event — it's a chance to connect with folks from all parts of SNHU, as well as the broader community. "Participating in GDS allows me to step away from the usual work routine and engage with new faces from across SNHU and beyond," Dupuis said. To his fellow alumni, Dupuis suggested finding something you’re passionate about and getting involved — whether it's helping at a local shelter or pitching in on a conservation project, every bit makes a difference.

A sign advertising the Arctic Winter Games that SNHU alumna Chris King participated in for Global Days of ServiceAnother dedicated advocate of volunteering, SNHU alumna Chris King '21G embraced the spirit of service by participating in this year's Arctic Winter Games for GDS. Hailing from Hay River, Canada, King volunteered her time to support the premier sporting competition and cultural gathering of the Arctic North.

Representing one of the participating regions in the Arctic games, Hay River fielded athletes competing in various sports, including hockey, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. In her volunteer capacity, King undertook a range of responsibilities, from providing medical assistance to aiding in meal preparation and volunteer registration.

Reflecting on her volunteering experience, King expressed gratitude and said, "Giving back has always been a personal value and goal for me." She also appreciated the opportunity to connect her world with the SNHU community, emphasizing the significance of her educational journey.

"Attending SNHU provided me with the chance to pursue my lifelong dream in creative writing and English," King said. When asked about her motivation for participating in SNHU's Global Days of Service, she highlighted the importance of the university's community in her life, particularly given her residence and work in remote areas.

Spreading Hope, One Letter at a Time

A blue icon of a hand writingBrittany Morgan Armstead, an SNHU academic advisor and current student, found solace and purpose in her GDS Project. Armstead volunteered for the Letters Against Depression project, an organization that provides hope and support to those battling mental illnesses through the power of handwritten letters.

Armstead's motivation stemmed from her own struggles, “I chose this project because I understand what they are going through, and I want to give people hope that they will make it through even their darkest days and that there are people out there who care and wish them well,” she said.

Armstead expressed thanks for the chance to reflect on and acknowledge the opportunities she’s received. "Participating in Global Days of Service offers me the opportunity to give back and connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds worldwide, whom I may never have encountered otherwise through service projects," Armstead said. 

"Participating in Global Days of Service offers me the opportunity to give back and connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds worldwide, whom I may never have encountered otherwise through service projects."

Glamour for Good

Donated prom dresses in Missy's Closet, the site of volunteer hours during SNHU's Global Days of ServicesTwo service projects, Missy’s Closet, a local resale boutique in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Project Prom Dress in San Antonio, Texas, made sure that high school students in their respective communities were prepared for prom season.

Both organizations provide formal attire at no charge to high school teens for their proms and school formal events. Volunteers for the projects greet teens and their families and assist them with selecting formal attire and accessories.

Each year, Missy’s Closet offers over 1,500 dresses for teens to choose from, all provided through donations. Approximately 30% of these dresses find their way to teens in the Manchester school district. Additionally, many New American families seek assistance from the organization.

Silver balloons spelling out Prom 2024 in Missy's Closet, the site of volunteer hours during SNHU's Global Days of ServiceSNHU has supported Missy’s Closet as an official sponsor for the past five years. This year, members of SNHU’s Women’s Empowerment Group wanted to organize a formal wear drive and reached out to Kirsten Farrell ’16, assistant director of The Chandler Center, for help.

Farrell was thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with passionate women at SNHU on this initiative. “It has been incredibly rewarding," Farrell said. "Doing something seemingly simple, such as donating a dress, has a bigger impact of empowering young women and breaking down barriers to their participation in social events with their peers."

Ashley Johnson ’24 leads Project Prom Dress San Antonio as its founder and president. She and her husband Rodney established the organization in 2014 after witnessing her stepdaughter, like many other teens, opt out of prom due to financial constraints. The organization initially collected items from friends and family. It has since expanded, now serving 150-200 teens annually with a physical location and extending assistance to events like homecoming and military balls.

Johnson's motivation stems from her desire to set an example for her twin daughters and contribute to her community. Reflecting on her experience, she expressed appreciation for the community bonds forged through the project. "It’s amazing to make local connections,” she said.

Cultivating Community

A group of 8 volunteers and 2 alpacas at the Joppa Hill Farm Spring Maintenance service project during Global Days of ServiceSNHU employees Chantel Wolters ’18G and Hayley Grenier ’15MEd organized and led the Joppa Hill Farm Spring Maintenance service project. Joppa Hill Educational Farm is a nonprofit organization that operates a working farm on 35 acres of public land in Bedford, New Hampshire. The farm offers a variety of programs and services designed to pass the region’s vanishing agricultural heritage to new generations.

Both Grenier and Wolters share a love of Joppa Hill, enjoying their trails and events like the annual Easter Egg hunt and winter sledding. When they discovered SNHU alumna and current student Katie Schelzel ’08 was the farm manager and camp director, they knew it would be a perfect collaboration.

Joppa Hill is fully volunteer-run and has a team of more than 50 volunteers who feed and care for the animals, do general upkeep and help run events. “Joppa Hill gives so much back to our community. We wanted to show our support for such a wonderful, local nonprofit and ensure they are ready for the busy spring and summer months,” said Grenier.

Fourteen volunteers, a mix of staff, faculty, students and alumni, assisted with spring maintenance on the farm, including painting picnic tables and animal stalls.

“The farm means so much to many people, and maintaining it year-round requires community support,” said Schelzel.

As an SNHU alumna and MBA student, Schelzel found it heartening to see the community come together. “I was amazed by how much work SNHU volunteers accomplished in just one day,” she said. “The Global Days of Service project not only provided essential maintenance but also brought together passionate individuals.”

For Wolters, GDS serves as a great way to step outside the conference room, classroom or Teams call to connect with peers and strengthen SNHU’s ties to the communities we serve. Volunteers from across the SNHU community joined the project, including staff, faculty, students and alumni. “It was great to meet everyone and learn about other areas of SNHU as we came together for a great cause,” Wolters said.

Grenier appreciated having eight hours of Volunteer Time Off (VTO) as an SNHU employee as well as an online resource meant to help people find or lead GDS projects. “What I think makes SNHU’s Global Days of Service so special is that SNHU gives us everything we need to make volunteering easy,” Grenier said.

The Power of Collaboration

An icon of two hands holding a heartAs SNHU continues to expand its reach, Global Days of Service remains a cornerstone of its commitment to community engagement. Through collaborative efforts and individual contributions, SNHU affiliates connect, serve and inspire change across the globe.

“Participating in Global Days of Service is something I’ve done annually and look forward to every year. It feels connected to SNHU’s values and is just very clearly the ‘SNHU’ thing to do. As the university has grown and expanded beyond New Hampshire, GDS is a way to promote a sense of belonging and recognize the reach of the SNHU community.”

SNHU will celebrate 10 years of GDS in 2025! Interested in commemorating a decade of good deeds by leading a project? Email the Alumni Engagement team at alumni@snhu.edu to get involved in this anniversary year.

Brianna Allard is a marketing and communications professional with over 20 years of experience in branding, customer insights, content creation, and storytelling. She has spent a significant portion of her career in higher education, where she is passionate about sharing stories highlighting the impact of education on learners and their communities. Brianna holds an MBA in Marketing and Management and is currently pursuing a master’s in creative writing at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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About Southern New Hampshire University

Two students walking in front of Monadnock Hall

SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.