Every Wednesday, like clockwork, a group of 15-20 freshmen board Gibbons buses to visit a local child development center that caters to low-income families and engage with the children. It is an activity the students take seriously and find rewarding.
As the newest members of our Gibbons family, it is an activity that also marks the start of their journey of service and outreach. Each week from 9 a.m. to noon freshmen go to one of two centers to play games with the children, take them to the playground, and read to them, among other activities.
In doing so, the students become “partners in hope” by living out Christ’s love in word and deed, notes Director of Outreach Ministry Gary Meyerl ’82.
“One of the things I love most about our outreach program is that our students know they are given an opportunity to serve others,” he added. “But what our students come to realize as the day goes on is that they too are being served by those whom they are serving.”
That realization continues throughout students’ four years at Gibbons during which they take part in different service projects. As sophomores, they help staff the Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen; as juniors they visit the elderly, and as seniors they help at a Habitat for Humanity build site.
But it all starts with helping children – an opportunity the freshmen more than embrace. Just ask Miriam Franks ’23 and Alex Kilani ’23. (pictured left.)
“I enjoyed playing with the children,” Franks said. “It made me happy to see them so excited to have fun.”
Kilani added, “I enjoyed getting to know the children I spent time with during my visit. They all had their own interests and personalities, and I became very close with many of them.”
So, what lessons did thefreshmen learn from the experience? For Franks, it was “to appreciate what I have because not everyone is as fortunate.”
Kilani said he learned a great deal “about mentoring by helping the children to learn and play with each other, and about giving to people who are in need.”
Summing up the experience Meyerl said: “Our partnership with the Creative Learning Center and Beginning & Beyond Development Center enables us to provide our freshmen with an outreach experience in which they are a ray of hope in the lives of the children we serve.”