“Always a great day to be a Bobcat”: three volunteers share personal stories about their involvement with Bates

Over the course of any given year, over 2,600 volunteers provide invaluable leadership and support for the programs and activities of the Office of College Advancement. From reunions to Back to Bates, Bates Fund and Parents Fund, BOLD programs, countless regional activities, and much more, Bates volunteers contribute thousands of hours to bring key programs to life.

By promoting engagement and philanthropy, this work sustains and enriches the college and helps ensure that a Bates experience will be available for generations of Bobcats to come. As we reflect on the 2019 fiscal year, we are highlighting the stories of just three of the thousands of volunteers who made a record-breaking year possible.

For many alumni, volunteering starts early. Arsalan Suhail ’09 started volunteering as an Alumni-in-Admissions interviewer after graduation, and that experience snowballed: he has served as a class agent, gift committee chair, reunion co-chair, and Class President. In addition, he was elected to the Alumni Council in 2017 and has served on the Chicago-Bates host committee, helping to foster community for Bobcats in the Midwest. For Suhail, volunteering is all about community and connection, whether that means coordinating regional NESCAC events or mentoring students and fellow alumni.

For Mike Nolan ’69, who led his class to a record-breaking 50th Reunion gift in 2019, volunteering was inspired by his parents’ example. It comes naturally to him: “I’ve done a lot of fundraising…and it doesn’t scare me to ask for money,” he says. “A lot of people are intimidated by that, but I’ve always felt that if you believe in the program, if you believe in Bates, you should pay it forward.” He was encouraged to attend Bates by another football player who had enrolled a few years ahead of him, and has spent the past fifty years helping other Bobcats make similar connections.

Suzanne Raved P’22 started thinking about volunteering while her daughter was still in high school, thanks to a good friend who was already a Bates parent. “We talked a lot about the Bates community and she told me about the volunteer work she did for Bates and how much she enjoyed it. I knew that if my daughter was accepted to Bates (it was her first choice) that I would definitely want to volunteer and help out in anyway I could.” By the summer, Raved had attended a new student gathering, and within a few months she was making solicitation calls for the Parents Fund, contributing to a hugely successful year.

Volunteering demands energy, time, and enthusiasm, but Bates volunteers report that the rewards are worth the investment. Raved has enjoyed connecting with the Parent Giving team and participating in an effort that exceeded its fundraising goal in 2019. “Recently I received an email from the Bates team saying ‘Bates smashed both the participation and dollar goals,’” she said. “This was really exciting! It felt good to know that my volunteer efforts helped Bates.”

For Nolan, the biggest reward is connecting with the Bates football network, especially as one of the original organizers of the Bates Football Golf Tournament. It has been fulfilling both personally and professionally, and he is proud of how the tournament gives alumni a chance to get to know one another: “It’s cross-generational…you start to pass the baton, and now all these younger guys are running it, and it’s really fun.”

Suhail finds it difficult to single out the most rewarding volunteer experience, but says, “one aspect of my volunteer engagement that stands above the rest is knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life. However, I truly feel that I’ve received far more in terms of personal fulfillment and growth than I have given to Bates. Volunteering for Bates is one of the most enriching things that I’ve done, in part because of the uniqueness of the Bates ethos and community.”

For all three volunteers, the work is inspired by the pride they feel being part of the Bates community. Raved points to her daughter’s experience of excellent academics and meaningful friendships at Bates as a reason to get involved: “At the end of the summer she couldn’t wait to get back to Bates. What more can a parent ask for?!”

“I just love the school…it’s part of my life,” says Nolan. “Being a Bobcat means a lot to me. It’s a pillar on which my life was built. That’s the easiest way to put it.”

Suhail agrees. “Being a Bobcat has been a privilege and an honor,” he says. “I’m humbled and proud to call myself a Bates alum and wear this badge proudly wherever I go. It’s always a great day to be a Bobcat!”

Bates alumni, parents, and friends have many opportunities to get involved, from serving on the Board of Trustees, Alumni Council, or Bates Fund Executive Committee, to volunteering as Class Agents, Class Officers, Parent Volunteers, Regional Network Volunteers, or Reunion Volunteers.

To all of our volunteers: thank you! We could not do this work without you.

View the 2019 Report of Giving