Guiding students to become servant leaders is one of the founding principles of the Gibbons experience. That principle came vividly to life on a recent Monday when Gibbons students, educators, alumni, parents, and parents of alumni joined together to serve the less fortunate at the Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen in downtown Raleigh.
Our school’s partnership with Shepherd’s Table is long and strong with Gibbons volunteers serving at the soup kitchen 52 Mondays of the year. However, on Mondays like this one on March 4, when nearly every Gibbons group was represented, the service was doubly impactful. Why? because you’re serving alongside people who understand what it means to be a Gibbons servant leader, and because they have served, continue to serve, and inspire service forward. It is this special knowledge, this shared experience with people we admire and enjoy, that makes volunteering together so memorable and unique.
Gary Meyerl ’82, director of outreach ministry, agrees and adds: “Our commitment to the Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen has expanded over the years to include more than just student volunteers. We now have parents, educators, and even alumni serving alongside one another 52 Mondays a year. Inviting parents, alumni, and parents of alumni to join in our outreach to those in need creates a ripple effect within our community.”
On this Monday, we arrive at the soup kitchen by 8:30 a.m. and Robert and Agatha Esposito are already there to greet us. The couple’s three children are all Gibbons alums, with the youngest, Victoria, graduating in 2010. To be sure, the couple started volunteering when Victoria was a Gibbons freshman and they haven’t stopped. Agatha, speaking for the couple, provides the reasons why.
“We are drawn to this place, we are compassionate in thinking that everyone deserves a hot meal ...,” she explains. “We also like to influence the students in a positive way and guide them in becoming community-minded people.”
Asked to describe how the couple feels when so many Gibbons community members are involved, she says: “We feel proud to be part of the Gibbons family … and that there is a school like Gibbons that instills compassion for those who are less fortunate. Gibbons is a family and you are always a part of it.”
Alumnus Adam Pohlman ’18, on spring break from ECU, was also serving this Monday. “I love volunteering, helping people, and serving with people I knew at Gibbons,” Adams notes, adding that he also helped at the soup kitchen the summer before college. “I am very proud of the school and happy to say that I graduated from a school where every student will come here to serve.”
Current students feel the same way, just ask Josh Velazco ’21, who was helping out at the soup kitchen this Monday. “It (service) is part of our legacy,” he explains. “Gibbons is all about what you do during your four years – your legacy – and service is a huge part of it.”