Students, alumni and people from the community participated in the 12th annual University Service Day on Saturday to conclude Founder’s Week. Coinciding with the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, the event embodies the University’s core values of service and its Vincentian mission while participating in a number of service events locally and globally.
Volunteers served those in need throughout New York City and abroad at the campus locations in Rome, Paris and Seville. Students, faculty, staff and alumni volunteered at a variety of sites, and assisted with serving meals at soup kitchens, visiting the elderly in nursing homes, interacting with disadvantaged children, cleaning and landscaping area parks, refurbishing facilities, painting rooms in nearby schools and community centers and providing assistance with numerous other important projects.
Students gathered early on Saturday in Taffner Field House for their day of service ahead. A majority of students and community members wore shirts made for the event that stated said, “What A Difference A Day Makes.”
St. John’s alumni, and college sweethearts, Steven and Irene Caccavallo, have been participating in University Service Day for years and said it’s an event that not only brings the community together, but also provides a chance for people of all ages to continue to show their love for St. John’s University as a whole.
“I love that University Service Day provides a chance for people of all ages and backgrounds to come together for a cause, not just current students but faculty, community members and us alumni that love St. John’s so much we keep coming back for more,” Steve Caccavallo said.
Aside from people participating due to love for the school, some participants expressed that they were volunteering to not only better the community, but also better themselves. Senior Jhanelle Gopie arrived at St. John’s without knowing what Vincentian values meant, she said, but she does now.
“I learned that being Vincentian means giving a piece of yourself to make someone else better,” she said. “University Service Day to me means taking the time to better the community around us all while bettering yourself.”
Students are not the only people who feel this way. Maryann Dantuono, associate director for the Vincentian Center for Church and Society, said, “In addition to making a difference in the community, I think that service really makes a difference in ourselves; it makes us more committed when we see so many people involved and makes us say ‘we can do more’ and that’s very much the Vincentian spirit here at St. John’s: we can do more.”
Senior Kurt Cruz, a film and television major and member of the theatre honor society, Alpha Psi Omega, joined and volunteered at the food pantry at Brooklyn Trinity Church. “Just the turnout of people and the difference they are going to make in one day, there’s like 200 people here? Think about it, one person can make a difference but 200?” he asked rhetorically. “That is going to make an impact for sure.”