Nettie Day’ brings Tusculum students into the community to provide service

Posted on 13 September 2013 by

Tusculum College students scrape the entrance gate at the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery.

Flashes of Tusculum College orange could be seen throughout Greeneville and Greene County Thursday morning as students volunteered at a variety of nonprofit organizations, churches and schools.

Thursday was Nettie Fowler McCormick Service Day, one of the longest held traditions for the college that involves students spending time in service to others. Participation in “Nettie Day,” as it is informally called on campus, is required for all new students as part of the Tusculum Experience course, and upperclassmen from such organizations as the Bonner Leader student service organization and the President’s Society student ambassador team. College administrators and staff members also took part in the service activities.

Dr. Nancy B. Moody, president of the college, encouraged the students to enjoy their day of service during a brief assembly and to remember the importance that service can make in the lives of others. She noted that volunteer service has become increasingly important to the non-profit organizations and schools that are challenged with shrinking budgetary resources as they try to meet needs of the community.

Many of the students found themselves working outdoors, whether it was painting the picnic shelters at the Boys and Girls Club of Greeneville and Greene County, clearing weeds trying to sprout around the fencing of a children’s playground at Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church, power washing the sides of cottages at Greene Valley Developmental Center or scraping old paint from the entrance gates at the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery and putting a primer coat on them. Dr. Moody joined the class that volunteered at  Rural Resources, where they cleared gardens, planted and built fences.

Some of the indoor tasks for the students included painting a hallway and stairwell at Doak Elementary School, cleaning the kitchen at First Presbyterian Church of Greeneville and visiting with and playing games with residents at Plaza Towers.

Students also volunteered at the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society, Mustang Alley Horse Rescue, Inc., the Crumley House Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center and Second Harvest/Mosheim Community Outreach.

Painting the picnic shelters at the Boys and Girls Club of Greeneville and Greene County was the one of the projects for a group of Tusculum College students during “Nettie Day” as the annual service effort is known on campus.

The President Andrew Johnson Museum and Library, the Doak House Museum and the Rankin House on campus were also the beneficiaries of student efforts. Members of the President’s Society could be found working in flower beds and other landscaping on campus.

This year, Nettie Day is also part of “Orange Rush” week on campus. Activities have ranged from career and personal finance workshops to scavenger hunts to demonstrations of archery and Tusculum’s newest varsity sport, lacrosse.

Nettie Fowler McCormick Service Day, which is conducted under the auspices of the Center for Civic Advancement, honors the memory and altruistic way of life of Nettie Fowler McCormick, widow of reaper inventor Cyrus McCormick, who was a 19th century supporter and advocate of Tusculum College. The McCormicks, staunch Presbyterians from Chicago, learned of Tusculum College through Tusculum graduates who attended their McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and became donors to the Northeast Tennessee school.

Nettie McCormick is recognized as the college’s first benefactor, a term that denotes a donor whose cumulative gifts total at least $1 million to the college. Nettie McCormick funded the construction of several of Tusculum’s historic structures, including Haynes Hall, Rankin Hall, Welty-Craig Hall, Virginia Hall and McCormick Hall, which is named after the McCormick family.

McCormick Day began as a day of cleaning the campus in reflection of Nettie McCormick’s insistence on clean living environments. The day has evolved to take on a more generalized community service emphasis.

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