May 19, 2006
By Mary Krouse
Saturday, April 29, was a refreshing reminder of all that is good about the students of Ohio University. Beautification Day, dreamed up by the men's Water Polo Club, began at 11:30 and brought approximately 180 student volunteers together.
The water polo club could not have asked for better weather; the morning was just right for working outside. As I approached the field behind McCracken Hall, home to our College of Education, I was greeted by a handful of men's water polo club members in yellow t-shirts. Not a bad start to a beautiful Saturday morning.
Shortly after my arrival, student volunteers began to fill the tables set up for the complimentary breakfast and beverage bar purchased with money donated from 17 local sponsors. More than 120 volunteers were given free yellow t-shirts, sporting the Beautification Day logo on the front and its sponsors on the back. In all, the men's water polo club collected over $5,000 in donations to sponsor the event. Supplies, including tools for the clean-up efforts, were also donated.
Several student organizations pitched in Saturday, including Alpha Phi Omega, the Ohio University Paintball Club, the Women's Panhellenic Association, Hillel, the Ohio University Synchronized Swimming Club and Omicron Delta Kappa.
"This project put me in contact with many community members and their response was unanimously positive," Ohio Water Polo Club Vice President Kevin Ziegler said. "I can't count how many residents said 'thank you' for creating this event."
Athens' Mayor Ric Abel and Ohio University President Roderick McDavis both attended to thank the volunteers and rally them together before their individual clean-up projects began. Water polo club members approached McDavis in November to pitch the project. McDavis gave an inspiring and uplifting speech to the crowd of student and community volunteers.
"I remember when the water polo club approached me at the start of this academic year," McDavis said. "Back in November, I could envision what this day would be like, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would look like this. I am so proud of the club, and of (the volunteers)."
Abel and McDavis both enthusiastically called for Beautification Day to become an annual event. Abel even went so far as to say he would support a bi-annual clean-up effort. Both men pledged their unfaltering support to the men's water polo club and to any other student organization willing to take on similar projects.
In closing his speech, McDavis spoke directly to the student volunteers. "You are ambassadors of Ohio University," he declared. "Wherever you go, whatever you do, people will associate our university with you. Never forget that you were a part of this day. Every student who follows you follows your example of what Ohio University is supposed to be about. So be proud to be a part of it."
Mary Krouse is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.