Daniel Garvin Stover came to Princeton from Columbus, Ohio and compiled a terrific record – academically as a molecular biology major, sports-wise as coxswain of the varsity heavyweight crew, and perhaps most notably, in terms of the wide range of his public interest activities. Upon graduation, Dan received two university-wide awards – the Patricia Glickman '92 Award, Princeton's highest honor for community service and volunteerism, and the Art Lane '34 Citizen-Athlete Award for "selfless contribution to sport and society."
Dan served as chair of the Student Volunteer Council, Princeton's largest student volunteer organization with more than 700 weekly volunteers in 65 projects. The SVC Program Coordinator told us he had been "consistently impressed by the care and attention Dan has brought to the SVC board," and cited Dan's "vision and commitment to community building," as well as his "work ethic and sensitivity." And a professor described Dan as "an extremely accomplished student with superior intellectual abilities. . . . serious and hard working. . . [with] a very mature perspective" and "a great deal of common sense."
Dan undertook his Fellowship with Isles, Inc., a non-profit community development corporation in Trenton, serving in various capacities to address critical local needs such as housing, health, employment in and hunger. In Dan's words, he "worked to forge a link between Princeton University and Trenton, striving to revitalize and renew Trenton to a vibrant urban center many of us know it has the potential to become."
We asked Dan how it had all worked out. "Isles proved an incredible environment for learning, specifically about issues related to post-industrial urban areas, poverty, and other social issues. It was a combination of work on the front lines – facing poverty, housing, gangs, and sub-standard health services head on – in concert with Isles encouragement of issues-based knowledge, such as attending workshops, press conferences and lunch seminars around the larger social issues. My education also broadened to include many life lessons: dealing with people who won't listen, navigating city and state bureaucracies, and bridging the gap between corporations and non-profits."
Class of 2003
Dan described working at Isles as akin to working for five different non-profits – dealing with such substantive areas as Financial Self-Reliance (financial literacy issues and home buyers education), Real Estate Development (construction of new housing and redevelopment of vacant, existing units), Environmental (environmental public health, community gardening and brownfields), Community Planning (organizing communities and regions to advocate for themselves), and the Career Center (YouthBuild, a job trades and education program for youth 16-24, and an AmeriCorps program).
"The main goal of my time at Isles was to formalize a volunteer program. Working closely with Isles' VP for Special Projects, we increased the number of volunteer hours by more than 400%, a value of nearly $100,000 in in-kind services. We developed a Volunteer Handbook that describes our volunteer program and provides a template for other non-profit organizations. In fact, Isles volunteer program has become a model for other non-profits and the Special Projects Department has made presentations on volunteerism for the United Way, Princeton Community Works, the Support Center for Non-Profit Management, and the Coalition for Peace Action. Over 90 representatives from local and regional non-profits have benefited from the presentations and our forms and protocols are now widely used."
A second goal of Dan's was to develop a program through which corporations would engage in team-building exercises by doing service in inner-city Trenton. Through a corporate partnership, Isles developed a local playground for area children. Listen to Dan tell about it.
"The park continues to be one of the most beautiful and peaceful spots in the neighborhood. Most warm weekdays, nursery school children laugh and play there during school hours. The most rewarding part of my day was often the high-pitched "thank-you's" I received from a line of day care children on their way into the park after I unlocked it. After school as the school-age children climb on the bars and slide down the slides, parents come out of their homes to watch their children while sitting on a shaded park bench. Before the redevelopment, children rarely used the park because it was constantly covered in trash, broken glass, and drug paraphernalia. Now, it is bringing neighbors together."
Here's what Elizabeth Johnson, Isle's Chief Operating Officer, has to say about Dan:
"Several years ago, Isles, Inc., had the distinct honor of being chosen by Daniel Garvin Stover to be the host agency for his ReachOut "56 internship. He joined Isles, and within weeks began to make a positive impact on Isles' volunteer program and several special projects, including an important fledgling partnership with a new corporate sponsor, Wyeth Corporation. He also coordinated a research project that required deft leadership and analytical skills. Without hesitation, and with unusual skill and initiative, Dan dove in, and Isles continues to reap the benefits of his tenure today."
"Dan served as Project Coordinator for a complex park and playground reconstruction, involving hundreds of hours of coordination, estimating, and problem solving in our first "training" venture for Wyeth's Global Leadership team. It was a tremendous success, and we continue to partner with Wyeth each year. In addition, Dan helped lay the groundwork for a new line of business that Isles is pursuing, a corporate leadership training program that supports our efforts to develop projects in the city and link the city and suburbs. In short, Dan brought our volunteer work to a new level, building professionalism and a strong identity that continues to serve us well."
"Very few college graduates could handle the level of responsibility that Dan assumed here at Isles. He was, and continues to be, one of the most admired and appreciated interns in our 25 year history. We're continually looking for someone with Dan Stover's talents and commitment to bettering the world. We've found great people, but no replacement for Dan. Isles is grateful to ReachOut '56 for making possible, then supporting Dan Stover's year in Trenton."
Since the Fellowship, Dan completed his MD degree at Vanderbilt University Medical School and is nearing completion of his residency in Internal Medicine also at Vanderbilt. He served both as President of his medical school class as well as Chair of the House Staff Council during his residency. He has been selected to serve as a Hugh J. Morgan Chief Resident in Internal Medicine, then will pursue a career in oncology.
Throughout his time at Vanderbilt, Dan notes, he has remained engaged in the community. “I connected with a local non-profit, the Oasis Center (http://www.oasiscenter.org), that works with youth in crisis. We initiated a weekly tutoring program, monthly mentoring dinners, and directed interested students into outreach to homeless youth and STD testing in the community. We received grants from the Alpha Omega Alpha (medical honorary) Society and Vanderbilt Community Giving Foundation totaling $1800 to support new initiatives related to these projects, including health care for the teens at a medical student-run free clinic (Shade Tree Clinic; www.shadetreeclinic.org) as well as a tutoring library.” For this work, Dan received the Vanderbilt Medical School Award of Distinction, given to the student who demonstrated outstanding leadership abilities in service to the School of Medicine.
As a medical resident, Dan also led fundraisers for the Oasis Center and tsunami relief, collecting over $5,000. Dan initiated a canned food drive initially just for medical students in 2004; within six years it had grown to involve the entire Vanderbilt University, collecting over 10,000 pounds of food for Nashville residents in need. Most recently, he is working to start a non-profit that connects Nashville musicians with hospitalized veterans. He hopes to continue to use his ReachOut’56 experiences to merge his career goals with his passion for community involvement.
Dan has only good words to say about the Fellowship. “I would like to continue to express my gratitude at the opportunity ReachOut '56 provided me. I grew tremendously while at Isles and now find myself in the midst of nearly every social cause at Vanderbilt because I have developed a passion for community involvement. My year at Isles was an incredible education on how to effect social change from both the microand macroscopic levels, skills that I have been able to continue to apply since my time as a Fellow. I trust that the other Fellows would second me in saying that the ReachOut '56 Fellowship was truly an experience that changed my life."