Raise the Shield Connects Friars During COVID

     This year there were no penny wars, no pep rallies, and no dollar donations from current Fenwick students, yet Raise the Shield 2021 was a huge success. On February 18, all members of the Fenwick community, past and present, came together online to help the school surpass its fundraising goals. Although a great accomplishment for the Fenwick community, this outcome was not originally expected. 

     According to Ms. Erwin, creator of Raise the Shield and Director of Annual Giving Programs, there was much uncertainty surrounding this day. Members of the Raise the Shield committee were unsure whether people would be more charitable due to the situation at hand or tired of being asked for financial support. “There are a lot of different organizations in this world that need financial help directly as a result of the pandemic,” said Erwin. Whether or not this year’s donors were motivated by the pandemic, a total of over $200,000 was raised. Erwin said she was “really, really happy with the energy surrounding this day.” 

     Raise the Shield 2021 exhibited lots of energy from the Fenwick community, but not the typical energy. According to Mr. Peter Durkin, Director of Alumni Relations, this year’s event was completely digital, making it hard to get current Fenwick students involved. During a normal year, a big part of the Raise the Shield school day would include a conversation with current Fenwick students about giving back as alumni. In light of this year’s restrictions, the Raise the Shield committee decided to engage Fenwick’s students differently. One of the main goals of the committee was to make sure each donation was representative of the current students at Fenwick. “We took the number of students in the school and set a donation goal for that number of students,” explained Durkin. That goal of 750 donors was quickly surpassed, with a total of more than 860 donors, all from the Fenwick community. “I’m excited to come to the students of the Fenwick community, and share that… members of the community feel [they’re] so important,” said Durkin.

     The generosity and support from members of the Fenwick community are easy to recognize during the event, but the deeper meaning behind Raise the Shield can be overlooked. When asked what Raise the Shield meant to her personally, Erwin centered around the sense of commitment found in the Fenwick community. Erwin explained, “It’s a day for Friars no matter how long ago they were… in these halls… to reconnect with Fenwick and to continue to show their immense pride in all things Fenwick.” She emphasized the commitment the Fenwick community has to its students and mentioned that every fundraising benefit will go toward the students. Durkin was also asked this question. His response centered more around the name of the fundraiser and its symbolism in the Fenwick community. Durkin said Raise the Shield is “aptly named.” He went on to explain that the symbolism behind a shield is protection. A shield protects a person and those they love. Durkin believes Raise the Shield shows how the whole Fenwick community cares about the current students at Fenwick and wants to protect them during their time at the school.

     Emphasis on giving back and a strong sense of community is really what made this year’s Raise the Shield event so successful. Despite physical challenges, hundreds of members of the Fenwick community came together virtually to pay it back. “Raise the Shield sends the message to everyone in the Fenwick community that we are just that, a community,” Durkin said. “We need everyone to be a part and stay a part of the community.”