Wellesley Alumnae Give in Many Ways

November 29, 2016
Wellesley honors the way its many alumnae contribute

Since its debut in 2012, Giving Tuesday has inspired people to support the causes they care about by donating and volunteering. Last year, more than 700,000 people in 70-plus countries participated in the movement, which was started by the 92nd Street Y in New York City as a counterpoint to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“We often hear from alumnae that it’s important to thank the women who have gone before us and inspire those who have come after us,” said Bridget O’Connor Garsh ’04, senior director of resources marketing and donor relations at Wellesley. “So this year, we invite people to celebrate Giving Tuesday by honoring the many ways alumnae support the College’s mission and extend the Wellesley community around the globe.”

Their efforts touch nearly every aspect of campus life. For example, Boston-area alumnae hosted students over Thanksgiving break. Alumnae from around the country volunteered at the September inauguration of President Paula A. Johnson. And more than 1,500 alumnae have offered to mentor a student or young alumna through the College’s new Career Education center, which provides career assistance and guidance throughout and beyond a student’s years at Wellesley.

“The overwhelming response underscores what many already know: that Wellesley has a wonderful network of women who are eager to provide coaching, guidance, and professional opportunities to one another,” said Christine Cruzvergara, associate provost and executive director for Career Education.

Other alumnae work together on annual events to benefit the College, as with the Bryn Mawr and Wellesley Book Sale, now in its 85th year. The event brings together more than 150 volunteers representing the two schools for a five-day book sale each March that generates more than $30,000 for each college. Many of the Wellesley alumnae volunteers are in their 70s and 80s and have been involved with the sale for years.

The Five Colleges Book Sale in April brings together alumnae from Wellesley, Mt. Holyoke, Simmons, Smith, and Vassar colleges to coordinate one of New England’s largest sales of old books, with roughly 35,000 to 40,000 books sold in total. This year, Wellesley received $10,500 from the sale to support the next generation of Wellesley students through financial aid.

“Our alumnae network is 35,000 strong, representing every state in the U.S. and over 75 countries,” said Missy Siner Shea ’89, executive director of the Wellesley College Alumnae Association (WCAA). “Wherever they are, Wellesley alumnae want to make a positive difference in the world. And they do, in myriad ways.”

The Alumnae Association supports more than 75 clubs worldwide, which serve as networks of engagement, connecting Wellesley women to the College and to each other. The clubs help recruit the next generation of Wellesley students, host send-off parties for incoming students, and facilitate career connections for students and alumnae, among other activities. This year, the Chicago and Boston clubs celebrated their 125th anniversaries, and last year the oldest club, New York, celebrated its 125th anniversary with great fanfare, including a proclamation from Mayor Bill de Blasio that November 16 was New York Wellesley Club Day.  

Some alumnae serve their clubs for decades, as Irene Groban ’45, now in her mid-90s, has done. Groban was president of the Wellesley-in-Westchester (New York) Club until recently, and remains actively involved in its book club, meeting incoming students, and hosting professors at her home. "Even after more than 70 years, there is still no greater joy for me than giving back and being a part of the Wellesley network," said Groban. "It gives me so much satisfaction to help plan programs and events and contribute in the ways that I can." 

“We [alumnae] are a very committed bunch who always want to make things better…for the College, for each other, and for the world,” said Georgia Murphy Johnson ’75, president of the WCAA.

Anyone who wishes to acknowledge Wellesley alumnae on Giving Tuesday (or any day) can do so by posting a thank-you note on Facebook or Twitter, or by making a gift online. Donors may consider contributing in appreciation of an inspirational alumna; a message will be forwarded to the person honored.