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Answering the call to serve


It started with a new tradition: One by one, Gibbons Alumni signed a white tool apron adorned with the logo of our school’s Outreach Program before they set to work to help build a home for a deserving family.

Twenty-six people - including 16 alumni, representing classes 1982 to 2019 - gathered at the Garner NC Habitat for Humanity build site on March 7 for the third annual Alumni Day of Service, sponsored by Gibbons Outreach and Gibbons Alumni. Habitat for Humanity of Wake County is one of 37 organizations throughout the Triangle that Gibbons Outreach partners with throughout the school year.

“Working at Habitat not only is a way for alumni to give back to their alma mater but also to live out the call to serve, which is one of the hallmarks of our school’s mission,” said Associate Director of Alumni Advancement Susan Leigh ’87.

Director of Outreach Gary Meyerl ’82 added: “Collaborative efforts like the Alumni Day of Service have a unique way of bringing people together in partnership with organizations like Habitat for Humanity. Our Gibbons community and our local community benefit greatly when our alumni come back to share their gifts and talents.”

Under a bright Saturday morning sky, the alumni rolled up their sleeves, donned tool aprons, and worked side-by-side with Patrice,  the future homeowner, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. They installed roofing, built scaffolding, and did framing work inside the house, which for many of the alumni, was a learning experience.

The activities may have been varied, but the enthusiasm among the alumni was uniform. The reason? For them, the day represented what it means to be a servant leader.

“I wanted to give back to the community,” said Cathy Gomes ’10, who came to the day of service with her sister Cindy Gomes ’12. “ I am always looking for ways to make a positive difference in the world, and I am even happier to do that will fellow Gibbons Alumni.”

Anne DiBartolo-Ortiz ’08, who came to the event with her husband, Cesar Ortiz, added: “When I was a student at Gibbons, I learned how important it was to participate in community service and give back to our community. This alumni opportunity is a great way to feel connected and serve along with others who share in the commitment to giving back.”

So, what happens with the tool apron?  “The idea is to present it to the homeowner when the house is complete,” Meyerl said.

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