It is 7:30 AM on a recent August Monday and the cafeteria is packed – this time with Gibbons educators, not students. The reason is simple: While the calendar marked August 20 a day off from school for students, it was Educator Day of Service, which in Only at Gibbons tradition, is a day that our educators spend in service to others.
Principal Jason Curtis has described the annual day of service, now in its fourth year, as “one of the most important things our school can do, an opportunity to reflect upon the many blessings God has given us, and ways we can show God's mercy and love to the most vulnerable in our midst.”
This year’s day of service offered educators the opportunity to serve seven different communities. They either served lunch to the hungry at the local Shepherd's Table Soup Kitchen; sorted, folded, and labeled clothes for Note in the Pocket, which offers clothing to impoverished and homeless children in Wake County; helped cultivate the Camden Street Garden, which provides fresh produce to those in need; worked at the Green Chair Project, which collects and refurbishes donated furniture to help people transitioning from homelessness, military service, or an unexpected crisis or natural disaster; served at Catholic Parish Outreach; or assisted in the cleanup of the Cardinal Gibbons Short Journey Retreat Center to prepare it for a planned renovation. They also guided students on the first school-sponsored retreats of the year.
“Service is as much about the encounter – the people we are serving and those with whom we serve – as it is the work that we do,” said Gary Meyerl ’82, Director of Outreach Ministry, who organized the day. “Today enabled us to become the hands and feet of Christ in the service we provided.”
Asked the importance of the annual Educator Day of Service, Gibbons Theology Educator Rick Martin, who served at the Camden Street Garden, said: “It gave me the opportunity to get my hands dirty, hang out with cool people, and get involved in something that provides those in need access to food.”
Science Educator Joleen Smith, who also served at the garden, added: “Together we can do great things, be a great example.”
Gibbons Educator Brent Nolan ’05, who served at the Cardinal Gibbons Short Journey Center, said: “It enables us to live out the school’s mission – it’s the total package.”
Director of Retreats Crista Anders said the annual day of service dovetailed with the “kick-off weekend” for the Retreat Program. Indeed, Crista, along with Tim Yelenic, Director of Retreats, seven educators, and senior leaders, led over 100 students in three retreats.
“The retreats were another opportunity for our educators to be of service to their students and to share their faith lives with them,” Crista said.
In addition to the annual Educator Day of Service new educators and their mentors also traditionally have served at Shepherd's Table. This year, our Drama Department also started their season with service, and other clubs and sports teams are slated to do the same.
“The people that we served – the organizations that opened their arms and doors to us – provided us an opportunity to catch a glimpse into their mission and ministry,” noted Gary Meyerl. “What a gift today proved to be for everyone involved.”