Building on a treasured longtime tradition of civic engagement, Tusculum University will expand Nettie Fowler McCormick Service Day to a weeklong commemoration that will remember 9/11, support first responders and the military and call attention to a major mental health issue – suicide.
Nettie Week kicks off Monday, Sept. 14, and runs through Friday, Sept. 18, with multiple activities on the Greeneville campus for Tusculum students, faculty and staff. It will include a day for freshmen to perform labor on the grounds and athletic teams to conduct a service project off campus. All participants will be required to adhere to safety precautions by wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distancing and using hand hygiene during the events.
“The Tusculum family will experience personal growth and understanding through the abundant opportunities of Nettie Week,” said Dr. Jacob Fait, executive director of the university’s Center for Civic Advancement and dean of the College of Business. “The events will provide an outstanding outlet to reflect on the courage demonstrated during the horror of 9/11, honor the work many people provide on our behalf and inspire us to be civically engaged by helping others through their struggles.”
Members of the community will have an opportunity to participate through a free suicide prevention training session Tuesday, Sept. 15, via the Zoom virtual platform.
Traditionally, Nettie Day, which is named in honor of one of Tusculum’s early benefactors, has focused on sending hundreds of students and some employees to dozens of locations in the region to perform service work. However, Tusculum needed to alter that approach this year in light of safety requirements due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, students will focus primarily on service work on campus Friday, Sept. 18, with projects such as cleaning the wetlands and a creek, creating a pathway to the Doak House Museum, planting a butterfly garden and building Adirondack chairs in honor of those who served in the military following 9/11. The men’s and women’s tennis teams will leave campus to clean courts for the Greene County Tennis Association.
In 2019, Tusculum was one of just nine organizations in the nation to earn a 2020 September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance Grant. Those funds have enabled Tusculum to change the direction of Nettie Day to the weeklong event, almost all of which is scheduled outdoors at Tusculum.
Some activities will be recurring Monday through Thursday. The bell at McCormick Hall will ring each of those days at 8:46 a.m., 9:03 a.m., 9:37 a.m. and 10:07 a.m. in remembrance of the plane crashes on 9/11. In addition, Tusculum family members will have an opportunity from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. to write letters for members of the military and create posters of support for local law enforcement officers, firefighters and hospital employees.
Another event will be held Wednesday after dark – showing the 9/11 documentary “102 Minutes That Changed America,” produced by the History channel. Then, Tusculum will host a speech Thursday at 11 a.m. by E.L. Morton, mayor of Campbell County, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and a student seeking his Master of Business Administration at Tusculum.
Tusculum will hold a number of activities pertaining to suicide because of the number of college students and members of the military who take their lives. Throughout the week, the university will have 1,100 pinwheels planted at the beach volleyball courts on Shiloh Road to represent the number of college students who commit suicide each year in the United States. The pinwheels will be purple and teal, the colors of suicide prevention.
The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network will hold two 90-minute training sessions with the same content Tuesday. One will be in person on campus at 10:15 a.m. for Tusculum students, faculty and staff, and the second will take place at 3:30 p.m. via Zoom for the same group as well as anyone in the community. The Question, Persuade and Refer training will enable participants to spot the signs of someone who might be in distress and guide them how to respond so the person in crisis receives the help he or she needs.
Anyone in the community who would like to register for the 3:30 p.m. session should visit https://web.tusculum.edu/cca/nettie-week/ and click the QPR training button. Those who register will receive an email with the Zoom link the day of the event.
“Tusculum University’s commitment to and passion for service and civic engagement flow directly from our mission, and Nettie Week is a tangible expression of our values,” said Dr. Scott Hummel, the university’s president. “We prepare students to make a difference in people’s lives and help the world become a better place. I am incredibly proud of our students’ hard work, collaboration, compassion, service and their honoring of our first responders and military personnel, who serve us all.”
For more information about the university, please visit www.tusculum.edu.