Help New Orleans renew and rebuild!

Colleen McFarland, the indefatigable vice-chair/chair-elect of SAA’s Archivists of Religious Collections Section, has once again taken the lead on organizing not one, but FIVE, service projects so that archivists attending the Annual Meeting in NOLA can “give back” to the city. Can you fit one of the projects into your busy schedule on Tuesday August 13th or Wednesday the 14th? Here’s more information from Colleen. –Jackie

On the morning of Wednesday, August 8, 2012, two dozen archivists attending the SAA Annual Meeting assembled outside of the conference hotel and boarded a charter bus that took them to a place few San Diego conference goers or tourists see – the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank.  We went there not to view an exhibit on the history of hunger or advise the food bank on record keeping, but to provide assistance in sorting and distributing food that feeds San Diego’s hungry.    We were greeted by a volunteer supervisor, Ian, who put us to work assembling boxes of food for San Diego County’s low-income seniors.  For the next two and a half hours, we taped boxes together, hauled containers of bottled and canned goods from pallets to the box assembly line, filled the boxes with the bottled and canned goods, stacked the completed boxes onto pallets, and recycled the cardboard containers that originally held the bottles and cans.  By our final count, we assembled 480 boxes of food to be distributed at one of the food bank’s 51 distribution sites for senior citizens.

But that’s not all we did.  We laughed at our initial clumsiness in working with non-archival boxes.  We marveled at the weight of bottled juice (and wished that we had been in physical training before the service project).  We sweated in the unairconditioned warehouse.  We danced and sang along to the 1980s music on the radio.   And we talked–a lot.  Our labor not only supported the community of San Diego, but also the community that is SAA.  We may have arrived at the food bank as colleagues, but we left the food bank as new friends.

At the Annual Meeting in New Orleans, archivists will have the opportunity to participate in not one, but five service projects!  Thanks to the work of the Archivists of Religious Collections Section, Archivists without Borders, the New Orleans Host Committee, and SAA staff, annual meeting attendees may lend a hand on Tuesday or Wednesday to New Orleans archival repositories, provide “sweat equity” in support of New Orleans neighborhood restoration, or alleviate hunger in New Orleans and the surrounding area.  These service projects will give you the opportunity to thank our terrific host city for its hospitality and to celebrate its resilience.  And as you are painting, scanning, landscaping, sorting food, inventorying, or cleaning, do not be surprised if you make a new SAA friend or two.  I invite you to volunteer your time and your resources to one of our five service partners.  We owe it to New Orleans and to ourselves to roll up our sleeves and work hard to strengthen the communities we care about.

–Colleen McFarland

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