As a leader of the Student Government Association in 2006, Emma (Crino) Folland '08 introduced the idea of a service project where St. Ambrose students would help campus neighbors with fall cleanup.
"I started Bee the Difference Day with the hopes that we would have about 50 kids and be able to help a few neighbors with their leaves and some yard work," she said.
On November 5, Folland and several alumni helped a student workforce of 650-plus assist nearly 100 neighbors.
"It was so cool to be back as an alumna to see how much it has changed," she said. "The impact from a simple idea has really touched my heart!"
Folland and fellow alumna Madeline (Doll) Grothus '08 joined with the Office of Alumni Engagement to build the alumni team for this year's Bee the Difference Day effort.
Anne Gannaway, director of alumni engagement, believes the alumni group can grow. "Our main goal is to provide meaningful opportunities for our alumni," Gannaway said. "Rather than focusing on adding new events, it is important to enhance what we are already doing. We are always looking for ways to add service-oriented and academic opportunities."
SGA organizer Caitlin Nelson termed the day "amazing" and said the post-work dinner introduced a few years ago continues to grow, with more neighbors attending each year. "It was nice to see our students mingling with them and getting to know them," Nelson said.
She also said the involvement of alumni made this year's event more special.
"I know that our students were excited to see that our alums have a desire to come back to Ambrose and participate in events like this," she said.
Like Folland, Grothus was impressed by how much the annual fall service event has grown.
"Bee the Difference Day is a great day for the campus community to share some goodwill with the surrounding neighborhood and show what being an Ambrose student is all about," she said. "Seeing the event grow from 20 or 30 students to over 650 students and now alumni is remarkable. It is a testament to students who attend Ambrose and the legacy we choose to leave year to year!"
Gannaway said the Alumni Office hopes to involve more alumni and their families in the next Bee the Difference Day. The team is already looking to expand to other locations around the nation. A group of Phoenix alumni already have a service day established, allowing them a chance to connect and give back to their community.
"This gives our alumni an opportunity, no matter where they are, to support their alma mater by giving back to their communities and enriching others' lives. We're excited to see what we can accomplish in the future."
View a photo album from Bee the Difference Day