The MGH Institute’s ninth Annual Community Day took place as scheduled this year. But there was a twist. All of the activities, aimed at serving local nonprofits and building community between students, took place virtually.

In years past, student teams would fan across Charlestown and Metro-Boston to complete a wide variety of service projects at elementary schools, senior centers, shelters, parks, and other non-profits. This year, given the pandemic, student teams met virtually to create a library of resources for community partners. From videos to tip sheets, the students produced a variety of materials to meet specific needs identified by each partner site.

In total, 520 incoming students, divided into 64 teams, participated in the event, creating resources for Harvard-Kent Elementary School, Kennedy Center, MGH Charlestown, Room to Grow, Ronald McDonald House, Hearth, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Network. 

“We wanted to keep the day as close as possible to the on-campus experience,” explained Midge Hobbs, IMPACT Practice curriculum director. “We wanted our community partners to know that we are still looking out for them and want to support them in any way we can.”

In the case of Harvard-Kent Elementary, the school had a list of resources they requested that the Institute’s graduate students create in the areas of mindfulness, climate change, and MCAS prep materials for life sciences, technology, and earth space. While the Kennedy Center asked for parental tips for online learning and fall prevention resources for older adults.

“Our community partners identified very specific needs, and the faculty and staff at the Institute created a framework for the teams to meet these needs,” said Hobbs. Prior to the day, each student was provided with specific background content related to their service project. The students then worked in small teams to create a resource to meet the identified need. Resources created during Community Day will be reviewed and then shared on the Institute’s website.