By Mary Elsen, The Circuit.
Service Team, a branch of Benedictine’s Ministry Team, held its annual Spring Service Day on April 22.
“The theme of Spring Service Day 2017 was spending time with our elders in the community, giving to them our energy and gaining from them their wisdom,” said senior James Reding, Service Team Coordinator.
The day consisted of volunteer work in the Atchison community throughout the morning and an elderly retreat at Trinity Place Apartments in the afternoon, he said.
“The purpose of Service Day is to have a large event for students to be especially aware [of service opportunities] and so that they have an opportunity to go out and be part of our service in the community,” Reding said.
“We had a pretty modest turn out [of volunteers],” Reding said. “About 30-35 students volunteered in preparation and the day of.”
Volunteer jobs range from spreading the word about Service Day and leading the elderly retreat, to cooking and manual labor, he said.
Most of the day was spent working with the elderly and helping those who have trouble getting around by themselves, Reding said. The team of volunteers mainly did yard work and house work in the morning while spending time with Atchison residents.
Sophomore Pamela Zarybnicky spent the morning gardening at Mount Saint Scholastica.
Zarybnicky worked alongside Sister Lorretta in caring for the rotunda near the entrance of the monastery. In addition to the work, she enjoyed getting to grow in friendship with Sister Loretta.
“[Service work] is about the people we serve and not about the work we’re doing especially,” Zarybnicky said. “It’s really crazy to see how many different kinds of people from different groups are brought together through service.”
Zarybnicky reflected on the impact volunteering with Service Team has had on her.
“It really gives you an opportunity to leave your comfort and then go do something,” she said. “Obviously, we receive more than we give every single time [we offer our service to others].”
In the afternoon, a retreat was offered for the elderly.
“The second half of the day, we put on a retreat, at the senior apartments called Trinity Place, for older folks,” Reding said. “We invited all who live at the two nursing homes in town, at Medicalodge and Atchison Senior Village, and we also invited the residences of Trinity Place Apartments, to come to a retreat for a few hours.”
The retreat offered attendees a meal with students, Scriptural reflection, intercessory prayer and singing, praising the Lord.
“I was personally worried that the retreat wasn’t going to go well – [it] was something we’d never done before,” Reding said.
By working with the elderly in the community and coming to know them, Reding and his team have seen the fruits of their labor.
“We put together a retreat that would be brief, but powerful,” Reding said. “We had about 18 older folks stay after the lunch for the retreat and it was a beautiful experience. [It] exceeded any expectations I could have had.”
Sophomore Shannan McQuade is the Service Team intern this semester and helps wherever she is needed.
“I go to all of the team meetings and I volunteer through setting up different service projects that we do,” McQuade said.
Shannan signed up to help prepare the meal, serve it and decorate for the elderly retreat on Service Day.
“With that leadership, I was in charge of finding other people to help [with cooking and decorating],” McQuade said. She stayed to assist and talk with the elderly during the retreat.
McQuade’s time volunteering with Service Team has impacted her life.
“All semester [has] helped me grow in serving other people, not necessarily just the elderly because the service that we can do can affect so many people,” McQuade said.
As a current senior, Reding is preparing to pass his role as Service Team coordinator onto someone else.
“I’m encouraged to see the underclassmen take leadership of the Service Day,” Reding said.
“As my time as a volunteer and a leader with the Service Team comes to a close, I hope that students will take advantage of the opportunity to get out to the nursing homes and the different people that we serve [and] to form friendships with the elderly because it’s beneficial for both sides.”