Every month, Andi Howard-Rein, ’11, volunteers with her church in Jersey City to make and serve breakfast for impoverished residents of the area. While preparing the food, Howard-Rein wears a Lehigh shirt.
One month, as she served breakfast, a man noticed her shirt and asked if the Lehigh wrestling team was still ranked nationally. Since that encounter, Howard-Rein’s friends ask her about the Lehigh wrestling team when she wears Lehigh apparel to volunteer, according to the Lehigh Goblet, a blog targeted at Lehigh alumni.
Howard-Rein’s story was one of many that alumni shared about their community service on the Lehigh Goblet as part of the From Lehigh With Love project. The project is a social media campaign that was launched by the Office of Alumni Engagement.
The goal of the project is to shine a light on Lehigh alumni who are passionate about community service. The Office of Alumni Engagement will be reaching out to all alumni until the end of February via email and asking them to share their favorite community service stories. In exchange, alumni will receive a shirt that says “From Lehigh with Love.” Alumni are encouraged to wear this shirt while attending community service events and post pictures with the hashtag #FromLehighWithLove.
Kelly Federico, associate director of stewardship, leads the web and social media component of From Lehigh with Love. After compiling the photos and stories received from alumni, she posts them on social media platforms, such as the Lehigh Alumni Association Facebook page and the Lehigh Goblet.
“Working on this project has been a great experience for me,” Kelly Federico wrote in an email. “I love reading how people are making a difference however they can. As a Lehigh staff member and a Bethlehem resident, I know how committed Lehigh student volunteers are to the community and it is interesting to see that the Lehigh commitment to service continues well after graduation.”
Shannon Jaeger, head of the project and director of volunteer engagement, hopes that From Lehigh With Love will evolve into an event that students can be heavily involved with in the future.
“I would love to see a deeper connection with students,” Jaeger said. “I think doing something similar to what we’ve done with alumni but having students participate and share their service stories with the broader community can make engagement a larger concept at Lehigh.”
The Office of Alumni Engagement is working with the Community Service Office to plan events throughout the school year that students can participate in to promote From Lehigh with Love. Additionally, the office has asked members of the random acts of kindness committee to wear the From Lehigh With Love shirt while they are volunteering in the South Bethlehem community.
Jaeger believes that as the project grows, it will strengthen alumni connection. Since From Lehigh with Love has a strong social media presence, it can connect alumni with students who enjoy similar community service events and have similar interests.
“Breast cancer awareness is a cause that’s really important to me,” Yao Jing Chen, ’09, said. “I would love to go to a breast cancer marathon and meet current Lehigh students who feel that same passion.”
The inspiration behind From Lehigh with Love’s creation came from collaboration between the board of trustees and the Office of Advancement. Members in both offices were brainstorming ideas on how to make Lehigh’s 150th year special and agreed that the community service principles that Lehigh holds should be recognized.
“They wanted to show how important community service is to Lehigh’s name and we want that continue for the next 150 years,” Jaeger said. “I think that’s the tenet that Asa Packer brought us when he founded Lehigh University. It’s all about education and exploration, and I think part of that should be about serving your community, and advocating for things you feel strongly about.”