Alumni gather to celebrate Waltham Group's 50th anniversary
Alumni returned to campus to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Waltham Group, a partnership that has changed the lives of both Brandeis students and the Waltham residents they have helped for a half-century.
President Ron Liebowitz and Mayor Jeannette McCarthy joined about 200 alumni, students, friends and Waltham Group community partners for a gala celebration for the student-led initiative, which has come to define Brandeis’ foundational commitment to social justice. The event, held on Oct. 8, was part of Homecoming 2016.
“I am pleased to be here tonight to recognize the remarkable success of a brilliant, quintessentially Brandeis idea,” Liebowitz (left, with co-founder Howard Winant '68) told gala attendees. “The Waltham Group just might be the gold standard for town-gown relations.”
Back in 1966, 30 Brandeis students attended the first meeting of the newly formed Waltham Group. The students tutored and mentored 90 children from the Prospect Hill Terrace housing neighborhood. Today, Waltham Group participants volunteer about 40,000 hours a year through 20 different student-led programs. They work with every age group on programs that address issues such as student achievement, homelessness, loneliness and public health.
Waltham Group co-founders Barbara Marin ’68, Stephen Rose ’61, Heller PhD’70, and Howard Winant ’68 returned to campus for the celebration. They each marveled at what the organization has become today.
“It is overwhelming to be here tonight,” Marin said. “I am in awe about how far the Waltham Group has come. I am honored to be here and so happy we did what we did.”
“I am so grateful for everyone in this room and so happy that President Liebowitz will support this program,” Rose told attendees. “We have to keep it growing and going because it is wonderful work you are all doing. When we started this, I couldn’t imagine more than one table filled with people, never mind a full room.”
Winant recalled that the Waltham Group came to life during a time that students were being influenced by the civil rights movement, President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty and protests about the Vietnam War.
“A lot of different things went into the start of the Waltham Group and we all brought different experiences and social consciousness,” he remembered. “For me, I came out of the civil rights movement and new left.”