Service on Saturdays celebrates one year anniversary after surviving funding issues

Service on Saturdays (SOS), a relatively new program offered by the Division of Volunteer Efforts, will have its first anniversary this fall.

Last year, SOS replaced the SHU500. It arose from the desire to “give our students a hands on and personal experience in service” and to “try to make a more sustainable impact on the community,” Michelle Sheridan told the Setonian in September 2009.In an effort to give students a more personal experience, SOS features a reflection time which is run by a team leader.

This year, SOS will run in the fall on three separate Saturdays, according to Thomas Russomano, Assistant Director of DOVE.

The dates will be September 25, October 16 and November 13. The day will start with registration at 9 a.m. in the Main Lounge and students will be back on campus by 2 p.m.. Transportation, lunch and a shirt are provided.

In an effort to give students a more personal experience, SOS features a reflection time which is run by a team leader.

Senior Matt DiCarlo, is a SOS team leader from last year who plans to attend this year.

“The way I see it, it’s easy to serve others, but at times it’s difficult to understand how it affects those receiving aid and even the volunteer,” DiCarlo said. “That’s what the reflection period is for, bringing the act of service full-circle.”

Jen Zmirski, a senior and a team leader from last year, feels SOS allows for a greater benefit to the community they are helping. She also plans to attend again this year.

“The multiple dates and variety in service sites allowed students to focus on service in smaller groups and make a greater impact on the community,” said Zmirski. “While SHU500 was a great large-scale event that emphasized unity in service, it became difficult to create a meaningful experience for so many students at once.”

“I feel SOS was just as good, if not better than SHU500,” DiCarlo said.

Service on Saturdays is an event run in the fall on three seperate Saturdays, according to Russomano.

Students who sign up will be taken to various community service organizations to volunteer for the day.

Organizations that were featured last year include working with the Community Food Bank, the Jersey City Cemetery, Weeqahic Park, the Mayor’s Office in Irvington and the Discovery Charter School.

According to Russomano, the favorite organizations last year were the Community Food Bank and Weeqahic Park. He noted the Jersey City Cemetery was also popular.

Russomano said after evaluating the success of last year’s projects to see which ones provided the most meaningful service, DOVE will continue to send students to several programs, including the Community Food Bank and Discovery Charter School.

He also said new additions for this fall include New Eyes for the Needy in Millburn, the YWCA in Orange, Cerebral Palsy of Northern Jersey and Newark Symphony Hall.

“The best part of SOS is the variety of service offered during the program,” Zmirski said. “Students have the opportunity to interact with people from diverse backgrounds, participate in efforts to enhance a community at food banks and clothing drives, help the environment through park clean-ups and so much more.”

Even though last year’s program was a huge success with approximately 1,000 students volunteering, SOS was almost not possible this year due to funding issues.

However, according to Russomano, Gabriel A. Esteban, the University’s interim President, wanted the program to continue and played a large role by helping to secure funding and support for the program.

Interested students should register in person in the DOVE office, beginning September 7. Space is limited, so students should register early.

Jessica Card can be reached at jessica.card@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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