By Craig Gemmell
Head of School
Kids are back! Winter term has begun and thus the academic slate has been wiped clean, winter sports have started, and campus has been readied for the weather to come. We await snow as we settle into the long haul of the middle of the year and simultaneously start the sprint toward the December break.
All through this joyous start, my dread and excitement have both been growing because I have agreed to be on Brewster’s version of The Newlywed Game with my wife of 21 years on Saturday night and then jump into the 45-degree lake bright and early this coming Monday morning – and both the plunge into gameshow fun and into the lake are stretches for me.
Why, I wonder, do I agree to such things?
I agree because I am but one of a legion of adults who are doing ridiculous things in service to Philanthropy Week.
What is Philanthropy Week?
Philanthropy Week is a week dedicated to both raising awareness about the critical role that philanthropy plays in funding the miraculous work that happens at Brewster 24/7 and raising some capital in the process. Lots of silliness has ensued throughout the week: Karaoke performed by Bret Barnett for a full house at lunch on Tuesday; a group performance of The Rainbow Connection by executive chef Chris Dill and a few members of his dining team on Wednesday; philanthro-pie was served to the masses on Thursday; students participated in phonathons throughout the week calling alumni of all ages; students attended a yoga donation class; an epic dance-off between Athletic Director Matt Lawlor and development officer Doug Kiley ended with Matt getting the nod.
The silliness all has a purpose. Adults are silly in order to keep the message light and to do a bit of showing over telling, for underneath the silliness is a key message: we stretch and do things that challenge us (like, say, jumping into frigid lake waters or singing karaoke) in order to encourage others to stretch in turn by giving to a cause that matters. Such is how to build an abiding culture of service, of philanthropy.
In addition to the silly challenges, we also received a thoughtful challenge from a member of the Class of 1977. Yong Hak Huh made a generous offer to triple all student gifts during Philanthropy Week, and double alumni gifts! When asked about his motivation for sponsoring this terrific challenge, he said, “I always feel indebted to Brewster as the school nurtured me intellectually and physically in my most important formative years. Brewster’s generous financial aid was what made it all possible for me. So it is natural that I should give back a little whenever I can to open up all kinds of possibilities for those who follow in my footsteps at Brewster.”
Please take a moment to give – even if only a few dollars. Broad participation matters here; such shapes cultural norms and supports our remarkable school.
And feel free to join me on the dock at 7 a.m. on Monday. Like the sensation of freezing cold water on a December day or not, I’ll jump in if we surpass our goal of 200 contributions because the satisfaction of having helped in my own small way to realize the goals of Philanthropy Week will outlast the chill and embarrassment of the plunge.