‘Service Day’ May Soon Arrive at SJU

Various organizations have come together to plan a charitable day of events on Sept. 28. The day will commemorate the charitable mission of St. Vincent De Paul at St. John’s University.

“[It’s] a way for people to come together,” said Mary Ann Dantuono, director of the Vincentian Center for Church and Society, and the coordinator of the event.

This service opportunity, called Service Day, is open to the Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan Campuses and gives students, faculty and the administration a chance to collaborate and help others by working with charity organizations in events and tasks.

The events committee is planning to send out 100 volunteers in groups of five or 10. These different groups will then be assigned to various agencies and charities to help in different events and tasks. The different charities being helped are Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, nursing homes, Catholic Charities, and others.

“It is about fulfilling our responsibility and bringing the past into the present,” said Sister Margaret John Kelly of the Vincentian Center. “[The project] is directed towards coming together and helping people.”

The committee, sponsored by the Service Opportunity Council, has been putting together this project for about a year. It includes representatives of Residence Life, Student Life, Alumni Relations and the Athletic Department.

“It has been a big undertaking,” said Kelly. “But the [groups] are very much involved and they are all starting to come together.”

“Everyone has been spectacular and strongly committed. A lot of planning has gone on and it is being put together step by step,” said Danuoto.

Campus Ministry is one organization that has played a large role in the development of Service Day. The organization has helped with the decision making process and many of the charities being served are connected with Campus Ministry.

“We are involved in many charitable events and are able to answer questions that other organizations may have,” said Scott Salvato, director of Campus Ministry.

Campus Ministry has been involved with the event since about September and has been discussing events details with Habitat for Humanity and local area homeless shelters.

Service Day is open to everyone but Dantuono would like to keep it small for the first year.

“It will not be a mega event,” she said. “We need a few years to work on it, after that it will take off and develop.”

Campus Ministry would also like to keep the turnout for the first effort to a minimum. “We want to make sure it is a good event so we are limiting the amount of volunteers for the first year,” said Salvato. “We are hoping it goes well and grow next year.”

All the details have not been finalized for the day but C.A.U.S.E. plans to participate and will be concentrating on helping kids from shelters.

“I believe it should go very well,” said Sandra Douge, junior and president-elect for C.A.U.S.E. “Everyone is involved and it should be a successful day.”

The idea of Service Day was developed from a day of service practiced at Notre Dame. Their Service Day has turned into a fairly large event. They hold an annual Blitz Build, which is sponsored by alumni and Habitat for Humanity, to build a new home in South Bend, Ind. for a person who cannot afford to buy one. The event has also expanded to Washington D.C., where Notre Dame also sponsors a day of service.

Danuoto said that in the future they hope to make the event at St. John’s just as large and popular.”There are a lot of good things going on around campus, this one day gives us a chance to [bring it all together],” said Dantuono.

Service Day has been adopted to celebrate the feast day for St. Vincent de Paul, which falls on Sept. 27. In 1625, St. Vincent founded the Congregation of the Mission, the Vincentian order that operates St. John’s.