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Resurgence: Howard University Day of Service Returns To Its Traditional In-Person Format Amid the Delta Variant Surge

Photo Courtesy of HU Climate Change

Last Friday Howard University hosted its annual Day of Service in person after being virtual last year and amid the rise of the delta variant.

Howard University’s Day of Service marks the beginning of a new school year and an opportunity for new students to bond by way of our university’s motto of truth and service. Howard University Day of Service (HUDOS) began in 2013 as one of the service-learning experiences offered by the Office of the Dean of the Chapel. HUDOS is typically held on Friday during Bison Week prior to the start of classes to acclimate incoming students to the school’s service-rich environment by giving them the opportunity to engage with the community they will immerse themselves in for the next four years. 

This year’s theme “Resurgence” was designed to mark the revival of the program’s typical in-person format and to introduce Howard’s motto, mission and values to its first and second year students, according to Andreya Davis, Assistant Dean of Faith-based and Community Initiative. This year’s initiatives include youth outreach, education, community health, environmental justice, elderly outreach, housing and food support and violence response/community protection. Some of the sites students served include DC Girls Rocks, Stokes Public Charter School, Joseph’s House, National Mall & Memorial Parts, Stoddard Baptist Nursing Home, Martha’s Table  DC Safe.

“The number of student registrants has increased by about five to six times the amount since the first HUDOS in 2013,” said Davis. The event has now become a Bison tradition.

Many students, such as senior chemistry major Inez Jacobs-Hinton from Philadelphia, continued to participate in HUDOS beyond her freshman year due to the impact the service had on her. This year, Jacobs-Hinton will be serving as a co-student director for programming of this Howard University tradition.

“My freshman year HUDOS experience was so touching and rewarding. Being able to go out into the community and change lives with my fellow Bison was an unforgettable experience. I remember leaving Day of Service in 2018 with the fullest heart, which is why I continued to participate,” said Jacobs-Hinton. She served with HUDOS as a general participant in 2018, a team leader in 2019 and 2020, and she is currently serving as this year’s student co-director.

Leading the anticipated campus event amid the unpredictable delta variant came with its fair share of challenges, such as having to secure more sites than ever before as service sites are only allowing a limited amount of volunteers to adhere to the District’s guidelines.

Student co-director and senior marketing major Jessica Turnage from Madison, Ala raised her concerns of organizations not being able to welcome as many volunteers as done in previous years. “In the past a lot of organizations could accept more participants. But since Covid is still prevalent, they are accepting less participants,” she said. This, however, did not stop the student leaders from working nor did it stop the students from applying.

 “We are seeing a large influx of participants registering,” said Jacobs-Hinton. “The numbers are exponentially increasing by the day. We are anticipating surpassing last year’s number of registrants.”

“I’m looking forward to HUDOS this year because it’ll be my final HUDOS as an undergraduate student at Howard,” said D’nai Thomas, a senior clinical laboratory science major, four time HUDOS participant and a member of HUDOS 2021 communications team. She is excited to leave a lasting impact on the DC community.