November 6, 2012 // Local

Marian service fair forges spirit of commitment to volunteerism

Marian High School students ask Michael Weathers from Habitat for Humanity about building projects during the school’s service fair.

MISHAWAKA — Complimenting the school’s motto of “They shall know us by our deeds,” a service fair was open to Marian High School students from Oct. 29 through Nov. 2 during lunch periods in the school cafeteria. Over 20 local nonprofits were in attendance to highlight the importance of student involvement in volunteering for community service.

Diane Coiro, a Marian High School board member and volunteer coordinator for the service fair, described the purpose of the event. “The students of Marian have done volunteer work since our establishment in 1964. Our students are already tremendously active within the greater community. I organized this event as a means of bringing our students into direct contact with a variety of agencies in an effort to enhance their volunteerism with new opportunities,” said Coiro.

Marian Principal Carl Loesch expanded on the objectives of conducting a service fair. “Service to others is a critical part of our Catholic faith. There are two purposes for our service fair; first, we wanted to inform our students about the many wonderful agencies in our community, and second, we wanted to encourage our students to explore new opportunities for service.”

Loesch continued, “Instead of having a mandatory voluntary service requirement that can turn wonderful service experiences into questions of ‘does this count for my required hours,’ we want to encourage our students to choose to give of themselves through service. In this way, they will discover the joy of service, develop and share their God given talents, and discern possible vocations and careers.”

Marian teachers Mary Dlugosz and Jenny Gargac noted the importance of student involvement through service in shaping the student’s spiritual and moral identity.

“To truly be a witness to Jesus Christ as teacher and servant, we all must use the time, talent and treasure entrusted to us by God. These service projects provide an opportunity for us to put our words into action,” Dlugosz explained.

Gargac observed that often students do not know where to begin in searching out volunteer opportunities. “Many Marian students are already committed to some form of volunteering, so the service fair allows them to learn about additional opportunities. For students who are not yet involved in service, the fair introduces them to service organizations and needs in our community of which they might not have been aware,” Gargac said.

Among the nonprofit organizations present at the fair were representatives from Chiara Home, the Christ Child Society and the Logan Center.

“Marian High School students provide the extra attention, love and dignity our guests need and deserve. As Chiara Home strives to provide respite care to over 400 families caring for a loved one with disabilities, an extra set of loving hands can make all the difference,” noted Chiara Home Executive Director Brenda Emmerth.

Christ Child Society of South Bend is an all-volunteer organization serving the needs of children living in poverty. South Bend Christ Child President Kathy Seidl emphasized the importance of Marian High School volunteers. “They assist the Christ Child volunteers with sorting, folding and distributing of clothes to the children. Our many volunteers truly appreciate all of the help these students provide. They are vital to our organization,” said Seidl.

Nicole Maguire, volunteer coordinator from Logan Center observed that students and those they serve at the center both profit from the volunteer experience. Said Maguire, “Through their volunteer experience, these students carry away with them an increased understanding and awareness of people with developmental disabilities. Like the ripple effect, the opening of the hearts and minds of these students has the potential to go a long way in furthering acceptance of people with differing abilities.”

In the end it was the students who were responsible for the service fair’s success. Freshman Sam Gill, who intends to do more service work in the upcoming year, noted that helping others is a strong motivator for volunteering in the community. Senior Tracy Wang, who currently volunteers on a weekly basis at Ironwood Nursing Home, found the service fair a convenient way to look at and sign up for the various nonprofit organizations.

And junior Kendall Eme, who has volunteered at Saint Joseph Hospital and St. Vincent de Paul Society, expressed the personal growth she has experienced from working with organizations like those present at the service fair. “My motivation to do service work is my love for helping people and the learning process that comes with helping. I love how good you make the people you’re helping feel. I volunteer because I am fortunate enough to have all of the necessities and I believe it is human nature to give back,” said Eme.


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