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Community service is a hallmark of the League. Read a short story or two here to learn more about the League's projects and the different paths that volunteers follow to support them.
Students furnish their homes at the Furniture Exchange.
More stories coming soon.
Daffodil Days heralds arrival of spring with American Cancer Society fundraiser.
Walk into the MIT Student Furniture Exchange on any day and you might find appliances, say a Sub-Zero refrigerator or a flat screen TV. Turn around and see an antique hope chest, and more recent Ethan Allen furniture. Mixed among the treasures is a road atlas, in perfect condition, from 1963.
The FX is a fun and friendly place managed by Julie Parker and a team of volunteers. Since 1958, it has sold inexpensive used furniture and household items to students and the MIT community.
Noa Lachman-Senesh and her husband Danny visited the FX shortly after they moved to Cambridge from Israel in the summer of 2012. Noa, with a PhD from Israel's Weizmann Institute, is a new post doc in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Danny, formerly with Royal Jordanian Airlines, is studying Biology in a distance-learning program through Hebrew University. They have set up residence just down the street from MIT and the FX.
Over several visits they furnished their apartment with beds, sofas, tables, chairs and household items. Some of their purchases have aroused the envy of family and friends back home who are amazed by the quality and price. “I’ve been looking for a couch like that forever,” said Noa’s mother recently, when she saw a picture of this newest acquisition. When Danny’s mother visited Boston, the FX was on the list of sites to see. She fell in love with a chair, but ultimately decided not to ship it back home.
Noa and Danny have garnered more from the FX than furniture though. After several visits, Danny signed on as a volunteer and is planning to help out more in the future.
Both are greeted warmly as they enter the shop, and their visit, which coincides with a quiet moment, is an occasion for tea and conversation. Now expecting their first child, they are making arrangements to pick up a crib they purchased earlier and contemplating other items they might need soon. “I’m determined that not everything has to be new for the baby,” says Noa.
Conversation centers on family and friends back home, Noa’s research, Danny’s latest news, and cultural differences between life in Israel and here. Both are enjoying this great adventure of living and working in the US, but admit to a little homesickness too. Their friends in the FX listen and talk, and ask questions about life and family in Israel.
Since managing the FX, Julie has met individuals and couples from Boston and all over the world. “I’ve met so many people and learned so much about other cultures,” she says. “Everyone here is friendly.”
For Julie and the League, the rewards are many, but always circle back to MIT. All proceeds from the FX go into the Women’s League Scholarship Fund, which provides annual financial support to undergraduate women.
The FX is located at 350 Brookline Street in Cambridge. It is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 4 pm and the first Saturday every month from 10 am to 1 pm. Shopping is available to members of the MIT, Harvard, Suffolk, and Boston University communities.
One sure sign of spring at MIT is the arrival of thousands of daffodil bouquets during what is known nationally as Daffodil Days. In mid-March every year, yellow bouquets pop up on desktops and counters all over campus; but this seemingly spontaneous burst of color is actually the culmination of months of planning and organization by Women's League members.
Daffodil Days is a program run by and for the American Cancer Society to raise funds and awareness for its activities. Long-time League member Janet Plotkin brought the program here in 1998 and since then the MIT community has raised more than $385,000. Last year's drive alone brought in $32,000 for cancer research, treatment, and education.
For many volunteers, this gargantuan effort is also personal — and a labor of love. Shelagh Joyce, director of management information systems at MIT Medical, is a multiple cancer survivor. In the fall of 2001, she volunteered to launch and coordinate the program in the Medical Department.
Shelagh and her husband have raised funds for cancer for years, through golf tournaments and walks, but the American Cancer Society is one of her favorite organizations. "I like the ACS. They are judicious with the funds they raise and there's not a lot of fluff."
"Every year Daffodil Days gets bigger and bigger," she said. "I deliver all of the bouquets personally. In addition to employees, patients buy flowers for their doctors and ask me to drop off them off at the office with a note."
Her efforts at MIT Medical were so successful that the League asked her to take over coordination for the entire program Institute-wide in 2009. With 100 plus departments now participating, she works with more than 80 coordinators from all over MIT. A bonus for Shelagh is getting to know other people from around the Institute. "It's a big place," she says, "and I wouldn't have the opportunity to interact with so many individuals and departments."
In the final flurry of spring, when the daffodils arrive from the west coast, they are delivered to MIT Mail Services where they are organized for delivery to each department. Shelagh's team of departmental "super coordinators" takes it from there, wrapping bouquets in tissue paper, and preparing personal notes of thanks, for each and every purchaser.
A Gift of Hope, a Bear and a Bunch, or daffodil bouquets may also be purchased for delivery to Mass General and Mount Auburn hospitals where they are given to patients with a note stating, "Someone from MIT has made a contribution to the fight against cancer and is sending these daffodils, in the hope that you will win your fight against cancer."