September 30, 2010
More than 1,600 students, faculty and administrators from each
campus of St. John’s University emulated the life and work of St.
Vincent de Paul by participating in a host of volunteer activities
on Sept. 25 during the annual University Service Day.
The day is
an opportunity for the entire University community to show fidelity
to its Vincentian mission by serving those who need it most.
Service Day also marked the end of a year-long celebration of
the 350th anniversary of the deaths of Vincent and Louise de
Reverend Patrick J. Griffin, C.M., Executive Vice President for
Mission and Vincentian Chair of Social Justice, said, “One of my
favorite quotes from St. Vincent de
Paul is, 'The poor suffer more from lack of organization than
from lack of good will.'
“During Service Day we marshal the University's resources
across all our constituencies: students, faculty, staff,
administrators and alumni,” he added. “We focus our good will in
service of the local community, and we make a difference. The
organized energy which so many people bring to this effort is a joy
and a hallmark of our living out the mission.”
Serving Locally and Globally
Since the inception of USD in 2002, members of the St. John's
community have forged strong relationships with local outreach
organizations that have grown beyond this single-day experience.
Today, University groups like the Ozanam Scholars
and St. Vincent de Paul Society visit certain sites on a regular
basis. The idea of Academic
Service-Learning, which incorporates service into the classroom
experience, is also now an integral part of the St. John’s
During USD several participants from the Queens campus worked at
the Ronald McDonald House, an organization with which St. John’s
has a strong, ongoing relationship. Teams assisted Ronald McDonald
House staff in various ways – setting up their Polo Day fundraiser,
serving hot meals and collecting donations. Another team visited
the Ozanam Nursing Home in Bayside, entertaining guests with skits,
games and raffles.
Teams from St. John’s also traveled to homes for persons with
developmental disabilities in Nassau and Suffolk counties, visiting
with residents and working with them on arts and crafts. The
homes are sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of
On the Staten Island campus, Ozanam Scholars
worked in conjunction with Project Hospitality to hold a health
fair at the New World Prep Charter School. Students from the SI
Chapter of the
St. Vincent de Paul Society distributed lunch and clothing to
clients at Trinity Lutheran Soup Kitchen, and a team of
administrators refurbished the American Cancer Society’s Breast
Cancer Memorial Wreath.
A team from the Manhattan campus volunteered at the American Cancer
Society’s Softball Tournament held on Randall’s Island, assisting
with registration, running the refreshment stand, holding raffles
and cleaning the field between games. At the Oakdale Graduate
Center a collection of canned and packaged goods took place on
behalf of Island Harvest.
Service Day was vigorously celebrated at St. John’s Study Abroad
sites in Rome,
Paris and Salamanca. Students in Rome volunteered at the
Sant’Egidio pharmacy, sorting out expired medicines from stock
which would eventually be distributed throughout free clinics in
Rome. Another team visited the Little Sisters of the Poor Elderly
Home to spend quality time with the residents there.
In Salamanca, students divided themselves into three groups,
serving at the ABBA Soup Kitchen, its storage facility and the Los
Jesuitas Park. At the soup kitchen, they prepared food, cleaned
rooms and loaded vans. At the park, students collected paper and
plastic and brought it to a recycling center. Students, faculty and
staff raised funds for a sandwich delivery project for the homeless
in Paris, prepared the sandwiches and divided themselves into
groups to distribute them.
Adrianna Lewinsky, Assistant Director in the Office of Alumni
Relations on the Staten Island campus, observed that participating
in USD has been one of her most rewarding experiences at St.
“All the trivial things in one’s life don’t seem to matter," she
said, "as long as you have clothes on your back, food in
your stomach, a roof over your head, love in your heart and the
desire to make a difference. Participating in Service Day is the
ideal way to show gratitude for the blessings in your life.”