Ten years is time for a celebration.
The SERVE program (Students Engaging in Reflective Volunteer Experiences) of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans (CCANO) turned 10 years old this summer.
Since 2009, 926 high school students have volunteered one or more weeks each summer at various local Catholic Charities’ programs and non-profits that serve the poor and vulnerable.
This summer, 56 students representing 17 high schools completed 1,108 hours sorting food donations at Second Harvest Food Bank, assisting the homeless at Ozanam Inn and visiting senior adults at CCANO’s Greenwalt and PACE adult day health centers. Their service was worth $28,176, said Shannon Murphy, CCANO’s director of volunteers.
Two 2019 SERVE participants, Tyler Gaubert of Brother Martin and Rebekah Haase of St. Mary’s Dominican, share their experiences in this issue.
Tyler Gaubert, 15, a Brother Martin High School sophomore, volunteered at Ozanam Inn, a homeless shelter that feeds, shelters and gives comfort to the hungry and homeless.
I helped by folding clothes, towels and bedsheets, making sandwiches and helping clean and organize the pantry in the kitchen.
Meeting other students from other high schools who want to help serve the city’s homeless was also a part of the experience of volunteering at Ozanam Inn. I saw how difficult the living conditions are for the homeless and hungry, along with the hardships they go through with different kinds of addictions, such as drugs and alcohol, which makes it easy for them to fall back into their old habits.
My attitude toward the hungry and homeless has changed in a way that I now have more empathy toward those who are on the streets, homeless and hungry. This experience has also given me more respect for them because they lost everything, and, yet, they try to get back on their feet.
This was shown through some of the staff at Ozanam Inn, because some of the workers themselves were homeless once.
I chose SERVE because it was recommended to me by my religion teacher whom I trust, and because of the great work they were doing for others. SERVE has exceeded my expectations because I was able to help the homeless in different ways than I had thought I could. SERVE also exceeded my expectations because it allowed me to see how the homeless and hungry live. It also gave me a yearning to help others.
This is the first time I have worked with SERVE, and I am thinking about working with SERVE again in the near future.”
Rebekah Haase, 16, a junior at St. Mary’s Dominican, volunteered at Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans.
Sorting and packing food in the warehouse and freezer taught me that I should never take what I have for granted, and it showed me that helping others will always be greatly appreciated by someone.
Working with SERVE also opened my eyes to the reality that some men and women can barely even afford food.
Now, I look at people who are struggling to make it by in life, and I can truthfully say that I understand what they are going through. I always try to help them as much as I possibly can.
I chose to do SERVE because I had previously worked at Second Harvest during a field trip in seventh grade, and I truly enjoyed sorting and packing the food and helping the less fortunate. Therefore, I decided to go back to SERVE once I was in high school.
SERVE exceeded my expectations because not only did I get the satisfaction of helping others, but I also made some new friends and reunited with old friends in the process.
I have not worked in anything like SERVE before. I have worked at SERVE for the past three summers, along with the day that I worked with SERVE in seventh grade. I will most likely be coming back to work with SERVE at Second Harvest next year and in years to come.