Students, faculty serve Philly area

Julie Balzarini

Over 3,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and families served throughout greater Philadelphia and around the country last Saturday for the fourth annual Day of Service.

The day began at 8:45 a.m. with a send-off at the Pavilion.

“VTV taped a video of the send-off for us, which was really nice,” said Assistant to the President for Events Christine Quisenberry. “This year we worked on making the send-off more streamlined.”

The volunteers returned at 3:30 p.m. A liturgy in the Pavilion and a Community Dinner followed.

Members of the Villanova community had the opportunity to sign up in groups or as individuals to volunteer at one of over 120 service sites.

Sites included the Philadelphia Zoo, Radnor Township Community Association, Ronald McDonald House, YMCA, Bryn Mawr Thrift Shop, Christian Association at University of Pennsylvania, Mother Cabrini Nursing Home and many other churches, community centers and parks.

Volunteers were also needed on Friday to prepare lunches for the other volunteers serving on Saturday, and to set up the Pavilion for the liturgy and dinner.

“I was part of a group that went to the Mt. Zion Church and painted the walls of a tutoring room,” said junior Allison Webb. “It was enjoyable to work alongside the parishioners and it felt good to help them accomplish a project that they may not have had the man power to complete on their own.”

An academic symposium opened the celebration in Connelly Center on Friday. The symposium centered on the theme “Restorative Justice: A Catholic Response to Crime and Punishment.” The University’s Graterford Prison Program was presented as an example of practicing restorative justice.

The symposium was moderated by Barbara E. Wall, vice president for Mission and Ministry. Guest speakers included Rev. Ricardo Ramirez, C.S.B., D.D., Associate Professor of Sociology Jill A. McCorkel and Joyce A. Zacarich, D. Min., associate director of Campus Ministry.

Both students and faculty had a part in planning the celebration.

“Planning the day involves a lot of coordination,” Quisenberry said. “I have a great committee that worked with me. We’ve really learned how to do this over the last few years.”

Securing outside funding is a goal for next year’s St. Thomas of Villanova celebration.

“We will be working very hard in this next year to find corporate funding or ways to offset the cost of the transportation and the supplies,” Quisenberry said. “It’s expensive to transport all those people, and we also don’t want to send our volunteers unprepared.”

One thing the organizers want participants to take away from the experience is the inspiration to continue to serve. An e-mail was sent out to all volunteers after the Day of Service, suggesting ways to continue their service through Campus Ministry, the Peace and Justice Center.

“There are a lot of people here that don’t serve,” Quisenberry said. “I hope people know how it will make them feel.”

The Day of Service allowed the entire Villanova community to join together and demonstrate its commitment to serving others in honor of St. Thomas of Villanova, the patron of the University.

“I think one of my favorite parts is when, afterwards, I get e-mails from people telling me this day made them very proud to be a Villanovan,” Quisenberry said.