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service

Penny

Fontbonne Day

by Penny on April 22, 2013

in Uncategorized

Last Friday, April 12, was Fontbonne Day, which is our community service day in mission together. On this day, faculty and students joined different service projects in the St. Louis area.  First, we gathered together for reflection and discussion in the morning of Fontbonne Day. There was an introduction and an interfaith panel on Catholic social teaching. Then, we left campus to do our different group service sites in the St. Louis area.

One of my graduate classmates, three Fontbonne faculty, and I joined the service project for SarahCare Adult Day Service, a day care
organization for disabled adults. They have over 20 clients in their organization, and different adults have different needs to be taken care of. Our group did many activities with the adults. We played puzzles and games (candy land, Bingo) together. I’m not familiar with American games, and this was my first time to play Candy Land and I played with adults. It was so much fun.  I also assisted them with walking, lunch, and anything they needed. During the day, I’ve learned I need to pay more attention to listen and chat to those with special needs.

I remember one of the clients kept telling me “I love you, you are pretty and sweet. Everyone here loves you so much.” She told me over 10 times in just 1 minute. Since she has dementia, she forgets easily what she said. Every adult in this organization had different needs, but they’re so cute and very open minded to express their love. They gave me many hugs and kisses, even though I just stayed with them for a few hours.   Aw…, they’re so sweet to me. Even though they have some disability, their heart is so lovely and sweet.

For me, Fontbonne Day is a really meaningful day to contribute to the St. Louis Area. I will get involved in more volunteer and service opportunities in the future.

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How exactly do I show my Fontbonne spirit?? Well that’s easy enough! Fontbonne has always been like a family to me. Its close-knit community and friendly staff have made me feel more than at home here in St. Louis. Coming in as a freshmen two years ago, I realized that people here LOVE to get involved. Day one, students were everywhere eager to help all of us move in. Various clubs and organizations were also there to assist. The transition from high school senior to college freshman was made ten times easier with the help of Fontbonne and the student/faculty base. During orientation we contributed to various community service projects. My choice to attend Fontbonne was becoming clear that I had made the right decision. Students and faculty are always helping out and getting different organizations or community service projects going. Needless to say, a great way for students to show their school spirit here at Fontbonne is through community service and involvement in school organizations. It feels good to be able to represent your school on a community level. Another way I show school pride is through the athletic teams I play on. Playing for the women’s soccer and basketball teams here at the university allows me to represent my school and wear their colors proudly. Go Griffins!

ava :)

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One thing I’ve noticed since moving to St. Louis is that there is a large homeless population here. In the January 2010 census, there were 1,305 counted homeless persons in the St. Louis area. Almost every day on my way to school I pass at least one homeless man holding a cardboard sign. My heart goes out to them, especially right now during the cold winter months. I’ve always been told, as I’m sure many of you have, not to give money to homeless people. The question is, what can we do to help them? Well, a quick Google search will lead you to a number of organizations in St. Louis such as the St. Patrick Center, St. Vincent de Paul, or the Bridge, as well as countless other places that provide services to the homeless population. These are great places to donate money, clothing, and food, or to volunteer.

However, it is still difficult when we pass homeless people on the street. If you don’t feel comfortable giving them cash, or if you just don’t carry cash, then you might find yourself awkwardly avoiding eye contact as they walk by your window. Otherwise, you may give them a friendly smile as if to say, “I would help you if only I knew how.” I decided last year to do something more about it.

I was reading through the Bible in a year, and verses kept jumping out at me: Isaiah 58:7– “Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them…” Proverbs 21:13– “Those who shut their ears to the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.” These are only two of many similar verses. I made a resolution that I would not pass by a homeless person without giving them something.

On a regular basis, I set aside cash that I carry in my pocket solely for the purpose of giving to homeless people. I’ve found that it is much easier to be generous when I keep it separated from my own money. Like tithe, I never consider it mine to begin with. When it got cold, I started keeping a bag of wool socks in my car. You could also keep peanut butter crackers, snack packs, or other small non-perishable items in your glove box for these occasions.

This winter I made care packages that contained a pair of wool socks (Cabela’s: $3.33), a pair of gloves (Home Depot: $1.00), hand warmers (Home Depot: $0.80), and a Bible (Lifeway Christian Store: $1.99). I took them downtown and gave them out on Christmas Eve. It really surprised me how excited someone in need can get over a warm pair of socks and a Bible. One older gentleman started to cry and hugged me. To us, it’s just a few dollars, but to them it means everything.

Since I started doing this, I have found that when I see a homeless person, they are now an opportunity to be a blessing to someone in need.

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Now, I’ve never seen the musical “Oklahoma,” but I know a couple of songs from it, like “Everything’s Up to Date in Kansas City” (and of course, the Oooo-klahoma one).

How this relates to my life? Well, on Friday, I took part in the Fontbonne In Service and Humility (or F.I.S.H., but more commonly written just as “FISH”) Service Trip to the Kansas City area. The song from “Oklahoma” gets raunchier towards the end, but it’s the only song I know about Kansas City, so it’s been in my head all week.

Anyway, the trip was an absolute landslide of fun times with new and old friends, and I’m really glad I went! We did some rigorous-but-fun manual labor on the trip that included cleaning up an urban farm (my group made about thirty five-foot-tall tomato “cages” out of chicken wire in the course of a morning), packaging huge bins of canned goods and peanut butter jars into boxes (which takes a lot of stamina when you’re doing it for hour after hour), and sorting tiles, constructing a trim rack, pricing blinds, and picking up trash at the Kansas City ReStore, part of the Habitat for Humanity organization. The group also conducted a Litter Index Survey in the area, and although driving around to evaluate areas on their cleanliness was not exactly physically difficult, the job was really rough on our sunny dispositions thanks to getting lost quite often.  As my car’s navigator, I take a lot of the blame for the fact that my group went WAY off course and ended up in Saint Joseph, MO, when we were supposed to be staying in Kansas City. Whoops.

When we weren’t working, the group was eating great food from the moms and grandmas of the group chaperones – we had spaghetti one night, and Kansas City barbeque the next! It was great! We also visited the Liberty Memorial, which is the national memorial for World War I, and the Plaza, an outdoor shopping area with a FOUR-LEVEL Barnes and Noble. How cool is that???

What really made the trip a success were the people who went on it. It was so much fun to hang out with everyone in the group – there were thirteen of us, and we played card games or Banana-grams every night we were there!  I had come into the trip knowing three or four people from various things, but by the end of the trip, I’d made great connections with new people, and “solidified the bonds,” as my friend called it, with the ones I had known at the beginning.

We stayed in a cabin on the edge of the woods, and on the first morning, there were deer outside!  On the way to the service sites and Sunday Mass, we got to see several beautiful sunrises from the Kansas City hillside.  One night, we went to a campfire that our “neighbors,” a group from Cincinnati, Ohio, also on a service trip, were having.  We met them when they dropped by bearing cookies, so we returned the favor and took them a pie!

Among the myriad of humorous moments on the trip came on Sunday morning.  A group of us had gone into town to attend the 8 a.m. Mass at a Catholic church, and after the service, a old woman came over to our leader and said “You have such a lovely set of daughters!”

In short, this service trip was an incredibly-fun way to spend part of my spring break, and I’m so very glad I went!

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