From the start of our college experience, we are constantly reminded that community service is one of the key pillars of success here at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. It is a team effort, to not only to volunteer and give back to one another here on campus, but more importantly to give back to the community that surrounds us within and beyond St. Mary’s County.
This was exactly the aim of St. Mary’s Service and Social Change and the St. Mary’s Cares initiative during their Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in mid November.
Just in time for the holidays, this particular program of Service and Social Change illustrated key aspects of a very pertinent issue that exists throughout the United States. The awareness week consisted of various events such as a Faces of Homelessness panel, an Oxfam Hunger Banquet, and opportunities to volunteer at local donation sheds and shelters within St. Mary’s County. These events were primarily student planned, being overseen by the Office of Student Activities. Among this hardworking group of students was senior Jessica Paguirigan.
“We had about 15 people volunteer to reorganize the donation sheds at Leah’s House, a shelter for women and children, and about 20 people volunteer to prepare and serve dinner at Three Oaks Center. Both service events were incredibly successful, and the help was greatly appreciated by the centers. Everyone who volunteered was very enthusiastic and made great teams.”
As the Community Service Outreach Fellow in the Office of Student Activities, Paguirigan was responsible for coordinating the various service opportunities for St. Mary’s students throughout the week.
“I think it just shows how much students on this campus have to offer and how much they care about the community. People care so much that I unfortunately had to turn down volunteers because we had too many people sign up!”
One particular event that claimed success that stood out amongst the others was the Faces of Homelessness Panel, where two speakers, one currently homeless and one formerly homeless, described their own life-changing experiences. In this program, students like Paguirigan were able to see the struggles of Hunger and Homelessness personified in a moving conversation.
“For me,” said Paguirian, “it served to give me more drive in pursuing my own career goals of helping to alleviate homelessness.”
Not only did this week of awareness serve as an opportunity for students to educate themselves on the issues of hunger and homelessness in the community, it presented students with an opportunity to do something about it.