As the end of the school year approaches and summer break begins, students are presented with an opportunity to serve others in their community.
“As a follower of Jesus, [service] is one of the most significant things we can do. As a person, it’s always good to get outside of yourself and realize that you’re not the center of the universe, and one of the best ways to do that is to serve others,” said Mr. Sam Roflow, Theology teacher and Community Service Coordinator.
McNicholas students are required to complete 40 service hours during their time at McNick, but are encouraged to exceed that requirement. At least 20 of those hours are to be completed by the end of sophomore year and must be with any establishments or organizations. The second 20 hours must be completed between the end of sophomore year and a critical reflection during senior year’s Social Justice class. They must benefit the underprivileged, based on the Works of Mercy in Mathew 25. These hours for the underprivileged can be performed in any way, but there is a suggested list of approved agencies on the McNick website.
The list includes well-known organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House, The Salvation Army, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, American Cancer Society, and Habitat for Humanity, but there are also a number of lesser known organizations where students can volunteer.
One of these groups is the Hamilton County Special Olympics. The Hamilton County Special Olympics’ mission, according to their website, is “to provide year-round sports, training, and competition… for children and adults with mental and developmental disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience the joy of achievement, be included in the community, and build skill and make friends.” The Special Olympics has general volunteering opportunities in planning and fundraising, as well as a need for one-day program volunteers. Some of these one-day programs include activities such as art shows, fishing, roller skating, basketball, and other athletics.
A second group is the Over-The-Rhine Kitchen, a soup kitchen that has locations in both Over-The-Rhine and Walnut Hills, and a food pantry in Walnut Hills. According to their website, the mission of the kitchens and pantry is “to help alleviate hunger in our community by serving the poor in an environment of respect, care, and hospitality.” The website continues, saying, “we call the people we serve our ‘guests,’ because we want them to feel welcomed and to maintain their dignity during what is a trying time in their lives.” Among other opportunities, students can volunteer directly in the kitchen or pantry. Students can form a group to prepare meals in the fully equipped kitchens, then serve them to the disadvantaged guests who come to the kitchen. Groups just need to contact the kitchen in order to sponsor a meal. Students are also able to volunteer in the pantry. The pantry has opportunities to help in bagging groceries for distribution or restocking the pantry shelves, normally from 9 until 11:30 am Tuesdays through Thursdays. There are also opportunities to help distribute the grocery bags later in the day.
“Service just moves us beyond ourselves. When you hear about turning points in people’s lives, it’s always when they were outside of themselves and walked in someone else’s shoes for a while,” Roflow said.
Students should remember that volunteer positions can often fill up quickly, especially with more unconventional opportunities, so they should try to secure positions early on.