The Spirit of Service

By Brianna Naderpour and Elizabeth Carres
OCT 4, 2016

Community service is one of the most important components of student life at St. Thomas Aquinas (STA). With a minimum requirement of 25 hours per year, it is helpful to know how to complete your services. Many STA programs and clubs, such as Best Buddies, Aquinas Kindness, Jack and Jill, and Social Justice, are centered around providing community services. Students learn valuable life lessons and gain very rewarding experiences.

Sophomore Bradley Cusnier said, “I have been working at a summer camp as a counselor for the past two summers. It has influenced my life by allowing me to positively influence, hopefully, all the kids I worked with.” Sophomore Nehry Celoge, who accumulates some of her services hours through an STA activity, said, “I have gone to Jack and Jill, with the school, and helped the daycare teachers with the children. This past summer, I also went to Schott Communities, which is a center for the blind, deaf, and disabled, and worked with the adults there. I liked helping the people there and getting to know them because it is a group of people that you don’t get to interact with on a daily basis.”

The teachers in the Theology Department are in charge of signing-off on students’ service hours. Ms. Myrick, who works with the Campus Ministry and the Liturgical Ministry teams said, “Community service is an important aspect of the STA community because that is who we are called to be. We, as a Catholic community, are called to carry on Christ’s mission to help those in need – feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and give drink to the thirsty.

Mr. O'Dea and students preparing to head to Jack and Jill

Mr. O’Dea and students preparing to head to Jack and Jill

Theology teacher and  Jack and Jill moderator, Mr. O’Dea, offered the following advice, “For a freshman, I would strongly recommend Jack and Jill. It’s easy. We’re on a bus every Monday, [students]  get two hours every time they go, and they can pick up at least 40 hours.” Mr. O’Dea reminds his students that, “…  If you have an idea of what you are going to do for the rest of your life, volunteer to do something in that area of interest. You can be helping your community, but on the other hand, also be enriching your own college application.” Ms. Curry moderates a social justice program that is currently being introduced to freshmen. There is also a Social Justice course, available to all grades, during summer sessions.

Mrs. Carol Bergen

Mrs. Carol Bergen

Service Hours Coordinator, Mrs. Carol Bergen, is responsible for uploading all community service hours into a program called ServiceTrack. With her many years of experience, she provides great advice about how to make certain that students complete the requirements on time. Mrs. Bergen  said, “It is important to make sure that your hours are from an approved organization. If the organization for which you want to volunteer is not on the approved list, contact me first so I can make sure that the organization is a non-profit. It is also important to give your hours to your theology teacher to sign-off on, and then you should keep your documentation for your own records. ServiceTrack is updated every two to three weeks, so if, after two updates, you don’t see your hours, you should contact me.”

Community service provides Raiders with the opportunity to build character. As Ms. Myrick says, “Participating in community service projects should not be done for hours.  It should be done because it is the right thing to do.” It is important to appreciate that, even though hours are needed for graduation, providing for others is the ultimate achievement.