Caldwell, N.J., Sept. 30, 2019 – Some 200 students, faculty and staff headed out to nonprofits to volunteer for the 11th annual Caldwell Day 2019 on Friday, Sept. 27.
Each year, classes are canceled and the campus community puts into action the Catholic Dominic pillar of service. The university partnered with 18 service sites to help with their needs.
This theme of the day focused on celebrating the life of Saint Martin de Porres a Dominican lay brother known for his charity, humility and voluntary poverty in serving those on the margins.
We talked with some students about their experiences living out the pillar of service.
Aashutosh Khatiwada ‘23
Major: Computer Information Systems
Where did you volunteer and what did you do? I volunteered at the Community Foodbank of New Jersey where our group packed up a total of 525 boxes of food.
What were the life lessons that came from your experience? It made me think of the people who need the food and that we take food for granted. I was shocked to learn that the food was going to working families who have one or two jobs but still struggle to make ends meet. It helps put things into perspective and makes us aware of different problems in the world. After volunteering today at the foodbank, it gave me a sense of self-satisfaction, that someone somewhere feels the effect of our work. Someone does not have to stay hungry today. Someone can put food on their table.
Why is it important for the campus community to put community service into action?
Community service helps you build perspective and understand other human beings. That is the only way we can live in a cohesive manner. Also, it helps students take a break. It was therapeutic; it gave me a chance to be there in the moment. And you can ask yourself, “Is it all O.K.? Can you fix it? I can try my best.”
Aubrey Melville ‘20
Where did you volunteer and what did you do? I volunteered visiting the elderly from St. Aloysius Parish in Caldwell with Sister Eleanor Uhl, O.P.
What was most rewarding about this experience? The elderly cheered us up. They made jokes and cracked us up and looked at us as their children or grandchildren.
Why is it important for the campus community to take time out to put community service into action?
As an adult student, it is busy going to school. This experience brought me back to when I was a child and my mother would take us out to visit the elderly. Whenever you go out to do something like this you believe you have a certain mission, and then it turns out to be a whole different reality.
De-Jane Grant ‘22
Major: Business Administration and history
Where did you volunteer and what did you do? I volunteered at the Op Shop Thrift Shop at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Essex Fells where we sorted donated items, put them on the shelves and added price tags and we redecorated some of the displays to make them appealing to customers.
What was most rewarding about this experience?
I came to a realization that just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s no longer good. Sorting through the various donated shoes, another student and I had to decide which shoes were still good to put on the shelves. When speaking to one of the employees she pointed to one shoe and she said that it may be old but it’s still clean and in good condition and to someone who can’t afford brand new shoes, this will be good and it’ll hold up for a little longer. It made me realize how I can take the brand new shoes that I have for granted. After today, I realized that I need to appreciate all the clothes that I already have and how lucky I am to be able to have the things I do. Someone who can’t afford the things that I think are simple and inexpensive may not be able to imagine themselves owning these things.
Why is it important for the campus community to take time out to put community service into action? It is inspiring. I had never volunteered before; I had always wanted to. It was eye-opening and now I want to do more. I want to give back as much as I can.
Cindy Herrera ‘22
Major: Criminal Justice major with a minor in Pre Law and Criminal Forensics
Where did you volunteer and what did you do? I volunteered at the Op Shop Thrift Shop at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Essex Fells organizing and packing up the items that were donated.
What was most rewarding about this experience? It was really nice to learn that after people donate the clothing, household items, etc. the shop sells them and they give the money to local charities.
Why is it important for the campus community to take time out to put community service into action? As students, we are focused on ourselves and our homework and we don’t take time to think of others; community service shows us there is a whole world out there and that one person can make a difference.
Jennifer Montejo ‘21
Major: Music education
Where did you volunteer and what did you do? I volunteered at the Arc of Essex County with children with Down Syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. We helped the aides and played and interacted with the children.
What was most rewarding about this experience? I love all children and it was wonderful to see how much care the staff members are giving the children to educate them and to help them grow according to their developmental abilities.
Why is it important for the campus community to take time out to put community service into action? Everything you are studying comes together to help you help the next generation. It is important to take advantage of this opportunity. As an education major, it started me thinking about a special education certificate.