Berry College’s annual Work Week, displaced by coronavirus, becomes a ‘virtual’ success.

Berry College’s annual Work Week, displaced by coronavirus, becomes a ‘virtual’ success.

Ginny Douglass, left, and Laura McGehee making masks (above) while Meredith Kagy donates blood (below).  Berry photos.


Media release: Berry College alumni from around the world wrote more than 1,000 letters and sewed more than 2,200 masks to celebrate the college’s unusual tradition of Work Week typically held in May.

Berry has a long practice of alums who return to campus for “Work Week” ever year to do woodworking, historic preservation, quilting and pruning to give back to their alma mater. After its founding in 1902, work became an integral component of the Berry education to keep operating and maintenance costs low and helped to offset the students’ tuition and expenses. But because of the recent pandemic, many of the Work Week regulars found a way to give back to their local communities while staying home during the pandemic.

Thomas Clarke and I both served many hours at our local food pantry in Rome as Bonner Scholars at Berry and were excited to particulate in Virtual Work Week this year,” said 2010 graduation Jacque Smith Clarke of Marietta.

Supporting the “dominating idea of service,” as Martha Berry described it, Meredith Kagy (2014) donated blood for the first time for Virtual Work Week, participating all the way from South Korea. Ginny Douglass (1968), Laura and Stephen Clay McGehee (1980) made over 700 masks. Crew Chief Joy Johnson (1973) helped guide participants in sewing masks at home, providing tips and sewing instruction. Masks were delivered to local community organizations, including the Salvation Army.

“I may not be a Berry alum but had the good fortune to marry one and my life has been enriched by our continuing association with the school,” said Rome resident Kathryn Adams. “We may not be able to be as active as we once were but we cheer you on in all your efforts . We were particularly glad note writing was a crew choice because that is just our speed!” She is married to Frank Adams, a 1954 academy graduate and 1958 Berry College graduate.

Katherine Powell (retired faculty), Marcia McConnell (1983), and Cecily Crow (1994) organized a food drive for Berry faculty and staff donating to Rome’s Community Kitchen. Laurie Chandler (1995) helped alumni collect and organize various food drives for local Salvation Army offices, food pantries, churches and other outreach organizations.

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