By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Students from St. Ambrose University logged almost 80,000 service hours during the 2013-14 academic year. The tradition of volunteerism will resume as students move onto campus later this month.
Last year the students volunteered 79,587 hours in a variety of service projects and activities. For the past four years, St. Ambrose University has earned recognition on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its support of volunteering, service learning and civic engagement.
“Service to the community is simply a part of who we are as a university,” said Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, president of St. Ambrose. “We are proud of our students as they fulfill the St. Ambrose mission of ‘enriching lives.’”
Father Chuck Adam, chaplain and director of campus ministry, noted that “From the start, when students arrive on campus, they are taught about being part of a diocesan university. They work with the neighbors and those who live within the diocese and are a part of the Catholic university.”
It’s important for students to learn that they have something to give, the priest said.
“While watching the news this week with a crisis on nearly every corner of the globe, it occurred to me that it is so easy to feel a sense of hopelessness. Young people especially can become disenchanted with the mess the world is in and feel overwhelmed and hopeless.
“Service is the perfect way to overcome this feeling. If you help someone, you create hope for that person. You see change. Small actions add up. Hope spreads, but most importantly, you give yourself hope by service and you learn not to feel helpless and hopeless. It’s great to see students learn what an impact their service to others can make and it hopefully leads them to dedicate their lives to helping others in whatever way they can.”
Although campus ministry offers many service options, Fr. Adam said it also serves as a clearing house for departments that want to offer service as part of their classes. Campus ministry offers service trips several times a year to places such as East St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Appalachia in Kentucky and Indian reservations.
Senior Kristina Pauley started out doing the Urban Plunge, required the first week on campus for freshmen and transfer students. After that she has done service by her own choosing — and none as a requirement. She has volunteered at Café on Vine and visited the Kahl Home in Davenport, and worked in Chicago during winter break.
“In high school I grew up doing service. It’s part of my family and faith,” she said. Providing service makes her feel good and she learns something from each experience.
“I’ve learned to appreciate what I have more, and that we all have talents to share with others,” said the exercise science major enrolling in the physical therapy graduate program.
After finishing her physical therapy degree, Pauley plans to continue volunteering and being active in a Catholic parish. “It’s something I want to do.”
St. Ambrose students also participated in blood drives, served adults and children with disabilities and worked 1,392 hours on 12 Habitat for Humanity builds. At the beginning of last school year, 546 first-year and transfer students volunteered 1,300 hours of simultaneous service across the Quad Cites during “Urban Plunge,” which introduces new Ambrosians to the university’s culture of service.