Large turnout for Service Day

More than 1,400 St. John’s students, faculty, and staff members participated in the school’s sixth annual Service Day on Saturday, September 22.

The day began with morning prayer services at both the Queens and Staten Island campuses of St. John’s.

Following the prayers, those who were participating visited more than 85 sites located throughout New York City and Long Island to engage in community service.

Participants cleaned parks, visited nursing homes, prepared lunches at soup kitchens, and spent time with children.

“This is a day of unity for students and faculty to show love for the community and surrounding area,” said Joseph Sciame, the Vice President of Community Relations at St. John’s.

Service Day is held on the fourth Saturday of September every year, coinciding with the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, which will take place this year on September 27.

“Today truly defines who we are as a Vincentian University,” said Rev. Michael Carroll, C.M., Executive Vice President for Mission and Branch Campuses at St. John’s at the morning prayer.

“St. Vincent de Paul believed we are called to ‘respond to the cry of the poor together,’ and he would challenge us to continue to seek out ways to serve the poor and vulnerable.”

Sciame added that “giving up oneself in the spirit of St. Vincent is a good humbling experience.”

One of the sites that students and staff visited on Saturday was the Catholic Charities Senior Housing Center in Bellerose, Queens.

Carlos Henriquez, the building manager of the Senior Housing Center said that Service Day was a blessing because some of the residents are without family. He stressed the importance of volunteering, noting that last year, the students that visited on Service Day visited the center three more times following Service Day.

“When you see their faces, you see love,” he said.
Students agreed that it was important to volunteer.

“I’ve always loved working with people and meeting people through volunteering,” said sophomore Matthew Coleman. “I like knowing I made a difference.”

In addition to coinciding with the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, Service Day also coincided with the Learn and Serve Challenge Week, which lasted from September 17-23.

Many schools across the country took part in Learn and Serve Challenge Week in order to raise awareness of the importance of service-learning.

According to a university press release, “Service-learning is a teaching method that incorporates community work into the curriculum, thereby giving students real-world experience in their field while meeting pressing community needs.”