Bringing Joy and Fulfillment Through Acts of Service

By, Angelina Persaud, Staff Writer

Manhattan College’s Campus Ministry and Social Action has instilled a sense of wellbeing in students and fostered a deeper connection with the local community through its diverse selection of service pro- grams.

CMSA has been at the forefront of providing students with enriching experiences to engage in their local communities. Some of their widely popular service programs for the fall semester have been cleanups at Brust Park, Part of the Solution (POTS), Service on Saturdays and the Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience (LOVE).

POTS in particular has had several separate events wherein students collaborated on plans to create emergency services for those experiencing homelessness in the local community.

Jacquie Martin, the faculty coordinator of CMSA, ex- plained the outcomes she’s seen as a result of these service opportunities.

“The organization can count [students] to help do that work, and then the student is getting a really enriching internship experience at one of these organizations while getting paid for their time,” Martin said.

The spring semester also holds promises of more service opportunities as well as an expansion of current service programs to help students become more connected with the community.

Additionally the LOVE program is slated to be back in action, after pandemic restrictions limited activities, and includes smaller excursions combined with a longer summer experience for students.

Martin reflected on the success of past LOVE trips and how it’s been influential in the lives of students.

“The group will talk about their identity, their culture, their experiences and then also be talking about these issues going on in the world,” Martin said. “It’s also a great way to build community leading up to the trip.”

Isabelle Gutierrez, a junior English major, participated in Community Engaged Federal Work Study (CEFWS) and experienced first-hand the effect service opportunities had on her college experience.

“I’m very passionate about social justice,” Gutierrez said. “What’s nice about my job is that I’m able to do storytelling with real people and real narratives.”

Particularly, she highlighted the profound impact photography and storytelling had on the women and children in the shelter she worked for.

“I learned a lot about people which I think is important,” Gutierrez said. “Doing the service programs and getting involved makes you feel closer to the community.”

Alana Pons, a senior economics major, recalled her experience from a past LOVE trip that was centered on the effects of immigration justice and racial inequalities following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

“I really wouldn’t have heard too much about these social justice issues, the historical aspects of them at least, if I had not gone on the LOVE trips, and then it also gave me a new lens to look through for all of my other business classes,” Pons said.

She also highlighted the necessity for current students to get involved with service programs and immerse themselves within the college and larger community around them.

“I’d say that if I didn’t do the LOVE trip I wouldn’t have really gotten the full Lasallian experience,” Pons said. “I feel like the program right now needs a lot of younger people to advocate for it.”

Linn Zapffe, a junior psychology major, participated in the Lasallian Outreach Collaborative (LOCo) through an after-school program she helped initiate at Concourse House.

Her weekly participation in the LOCo program furthered her interest in volunteer work where she has seen the influence service programs can have on youth in the community.

“I have gotten a lot of gratitude from the people who work there and also from the moms of the kids,” Zapffe said. “You can also see that the kids appreciate the volunteers because it gives them more people to play with.”

She also articulated how her service work has translated into her academic career at MC and how she hopes to apply her skills in the future.

“I have had a lot of fun with the kids in the program and volunteering is a nice break from college life and academics,” Zapffe said. “I am planning to become a child psychologist and volunteering at Concourse House has given me more experience working with kids.”

The dedication to service from the MC community is fundamental to establishing relationships with the larger Bronx community as well as uplifting those involved.

“What gives me hope is students and people in general supporting each other and helping each other,” Martin said. “And I hope maybe students as they graduate also bring that with them and continue to think about contributing to the local community and being of service to one another.”