by Da Hee Yang (‘23) | November 16, 2020
Numerous school activities have been affected by the pandemic, from club activities to sports events. One of the activities that has also been impacted is community service. Due to the difficulty of students physically participating with their regular volunteer organizations, Saint Francis has set up a new system to offer a variety of service projects for students to involve themselves in community service. Students are no longer limited to the population each grade is assigned to serve or their required hours – they are simply asked to complete one service project of their choice per semester. The wide range of options of service projects, from creating virtual concerts for seniors in elderly care facilities to assembling hygiene kits for unhoused individuals, encourages students to carefully reflect and pick a project that they are truly interested in. Those who have other ideas to help the community can also propose their unique projects or connect with local service agencies to help their fellow students engage in volunteering.
The school has decided to offer this new way of performing service in order to provide safe and innovative ways to support the vulnerable of the community. Mr. Pompei, the Associate Campus Minister at Saint Francis, stated, “The pandemic has posed plenty of challenges to all of us, but the reality is, our most vulnerable community members have been hit the hardest. I hope our students’ service projects help them to first see this reality up close, and then act to provide charity and advocate for justice for these folks, this year and in the years to come.” The goal of these projects, at last, is for students to apply the Holy Cross values through their actions and to present love and compassion to their neighbors that are sometimes forgotten within the community.
Various students have provided positive feedback on this new way of completing community service. Emily Dang (’23) chose a project to write letters of encouragement to the unhoused individuals of the Tenderloin district in San Francisco. Recalling her experience, she stated, “I thought it would be a little hard during quarantine to help others in need; however as I completed my project, I found out that it is pretty easy to reach out to different individuals in our community. I also felt hopeful at the fact that I could make an impact on someone’s day even during this difficult time.” Another student, Eliana Shin (’22), created her own service project to help her local parish by setting up audios and videos to broadcast online Masses. She explained her experience: “I recorded music and made slides for the Mass over the summer. It took a lot of trial and error, but I enjoyed being able to utilize my talents in audio-visual technology. Seeing the payoff in the end and how many people benefited from it made everything worth it.”
With the increased flexibility in service requirements and dozens of meaningful service opportunities offered, Saint Francis encourages students to seek ways to willingly serve different individuals in the community based on their interests. Some students might be interested in serving younger children through tutoring, while others might be called to reach out and build connections with isolated elders. With these various kinds of services and experiences conducted by students, the Lancer community hopes to see Holy Cross values being demonstrated even in the midst of such challenging times. Logan Guerin (’21) stated, “After some time studying and exploring what some of the hardships are that these struggling individuals face, I gained a better understanding of why it is my duty as somebody who has been so blessed and fortunate to go to a school like Saint Francis to serve my community and beyond as a Holy Cross member.”
For active student engagements, Mr. Pompei further encourages those who have not yet picked a service project to start thinking about their special ways to contribute as Holy Cross students: “If you are still deciding on your first semester service project, please take a look at our Master List of Service Opportunities to find one that aligns with your interests, passions, and availability.”