Service increases as SOS replaces SHU500

For years students utilized SHU500 to quickly fulfill service requirements and dedicate a day to service. This year, SHU500 is being replaced with Service On Saturdays (SOS) in an effort to better serve the community and students.
SOS will take place over four Saturdays instead of the one day of service. Student may sign up for one of the four days. Each site can host anywhere from 20-200 students and each day will last from about 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Discussions on how to enhance SHU500 began quite a few years ago,” Michelle Sheridan, the director for the Division of Volunteer Efforts said. “Our numbers were increasing and we wanted to give our students a hands on and personal experience in service.”
Focus groups were established two years ago and last spring semester to examine student feedback on how the DOVE program was going.
“Out of that focus group we decided that this was something to try to make a more sustainable impact on the community by being present at these sights, four times rather than one time, to give our students a real, solid connection with our sites,” Sheridan said.
“It’s less numbers of students and easier for them to interact with the sites they will be working at.”
A small number of students means that participants will be able to do more personal work and make more lasting connections on sites. Some of the hands on activities, such as landscaping and painting, will be at the earlier SOS dates, while the November dates stick to indoor sites as an adjustment to the weather.
Jill Matthews, the director of Media Relations, has worked closely in the past with SHU500.
“These changes really reflect what the students were asking for, they wanted a more meaningful experience a time where they could really work closely with the organization that they’re serving,” Matthews said.
Matthews pointed out that there once was a cap on the number of students with SHU500 only serving 750 students. SOS will be able to serve about 1,200 students.
Junior Matthew DiCarlo has been involved with DOVE for three years now, and has attended the past two SHU500s.
“Having service opportunities on four different days should be more flexible and accommodating than one giant event,” DiCarlo said.
“It should be less confusing and hectic than SHU500. Not to say SHU500 wasn’t great; having attended the past two years I can say the experiences have been worthwhile and provided as a great way to work with fellow classmates.”
Thomas Russamanno, the assistant director of DOVE, said that each site will be slightly different.
“Some sites will be repeats from years past, not necessarily last year’s SHU500,” Russamanno said.”There are a significant amount of new sites. We want to build a relationship between Seton Hall and places we haven’t volunteered at before.”
Brochures will be given out to all participants that tell the student who they are serving, the history of the site, what their service means to New Jersey or the community, and extra space to write out a reflection.
Jenny Zmirski, a student on Education Committee for SOS, said that her committee is in charge of putting together the brochures and coordinating the student leaders. She said that the committee is looking for about 20 students to act as leaders.
“I like the fact that it’s a consistency with the service, where we’re not focusing on service just for a day because it shouldn’t be something we do every once in a while,” Zmirski said.
“We want to get the students visible to the university community so that they know that we’re here to serve to enhance the community and make a sustainable impact on the site we’re serving,” Sheridan said.
Students may sign up now for SOS dates on Sept. 26 and Oct. 24 dates. Registration for the Nov. 7 and 21 begins on Oct. 12. Students who are interested in becoming team leaders must attend the information session at 9 p.m. tonight in the Faculty Lounge.
Stephanie Bower can be reached at stephanie bower@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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