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Concluding its 30th summer, the alumni-led Adopt-A-Dorm program continues to ready Tuskegee University’s residence halls and other spaces for students’ return to the historic campus. “A brush with history” — a phrase commonly used by the program’s volunteers — succinctly captures how alumni epitomize Booker T. Washington’s philosophy of using one’s talents to better the university and society.
Throughout the month of July, alumni assist the university with residence hall maintenance and any other projects that support student life or university needs. A driving force for the program — initiated by 1969 graduate and Virginia native Edward Grim — is supporting student recruitment and retention.
“I started the program because I recall coming back to homecoming a few years after I graduated and I saw that the university was in need of some major repairs – including repairing dormitory fixtures, replacing gutters, installing new carpet and painting.”
Grim said that sparked an idea for a project that would include alumni, and he knew it would be an initiative alumni would be proud to participate in.
“I recall writing former president Dr. Benjamin Payton a letter explaining that I wanted to help maintain what Booker T. Washington had built and preserve his legacy,” Grim said. “I spent so much time reaching out to all of our [Tuskegee National Alumni Association] chapters to find help so that we could each do our part in giving back to the university.
“I provide everything that we need to do in repairs,” Grim continued. “I pack-up my trailer and fill it with hammers, nails, all of my tools, including the rollers for the paint.”
Grim and the project have received countless support throughout the years, including from the Tuskegee National Alumni Association, which has officially adopted the program. Since joining the partnership, TNAA has provided more than $200,000 in support of major residence hall repairs. Other financial support comes from year-round donations from alumni and donors.
This year’s volunteer base totaled 50 volunteers, including Grim’s core support team: Wilson Blount, Larry Jemison, Eunice Ford, Calvin Austin and Sharon Walker. Volunteers worked on three dorms identified during Founders’ Day Weekend meetings with the university’s Facilities Division team that needed maintenance support: Bethune Hall, where alumni replaced ceramic tile; and both Tantum Hall and Russell Hall, which needed interior repairs and new paint.
Grim said he hopes to keep the project around for as long as he can; however, he’s in need of younger alumni to whom he can pass the torch.
“I can’t do it alone, and it would be nice to have more hands for next year. This is a project that every alum should be a part of because we all want to preserve the Tuskegee legacy,” Grim added.
Those interested in participating in next year’s Adopt-A-Dorm effort should email Grim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those wishing to make a charitable donation to support future renovations can give online at www.tuskegee.edu/give by entering “Adopt-A-Dorm” in the “Other” field in the “Restricted” gift designation section.
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