Community Service or Self-Service?
Allyson Abad ’16
We invite our SI students to engage in service with and for others...as volunteers who walk with those in need,” declares the Office of Community Service and Social Justice. The school maintains that the required 100-hour community service project teaches students to “engage in service...as part of their everyday lives” – but do students actually serve for the betterment of the community, or do they just “go through the motions” to fulfill a graduation requirement?
After finishing their community service, many students go above and beyond the 100-hour minimum requirement, striving to become members of the 200 Hour Club. These hours, however, are not always performed under the auspices of service. Instead, they serve as a bullet-point on college applications.
Of course, there is a sense of satisfaction (not to mention bragging rights) that comes after completing all 100 hours of required service. But what if these service hours were not mandatory? “I would still do service because community service makes me feel accomplished,” explained Rosally Nuñez ’16, but not everyone feels as generous with their time and effort.
Students are required to volunteer at non-profit agencies. Some volunteer at food pantries, homes for the aged, and food banks, where their only rewards are sincere thank yous from those they just served. But others pick agencies that give out free handouts and merchandises with their services. Agencies such as the YMCA offer free shirts, food, and special benefits for their volunteers during National Volunteer Week. “I know some people have volunteered just to get food and other stuff like that,” admitted Joshua Marrald ’15.
Still other students believe their service is “necessary,” thinking that the less fortunate require help from the privileged. Our school emphasizes “walk[ing] with those in need” as students “with...others,” but does our focus on helping the “needy” accidentally reinforce the idea that we are somehow the “heroes,” and others the “victims”? This superior mindset can distort our images of service and charity.
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