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Posted on Oct 12, 2012

Students Reflect on Community Service Lessons

October 11, 2012

“…We value a nurturing environment that fosters kindness, respect, and individual commitment to the larger world.”

from Gillispie’s Mission Statement

In completing one of their community service projects, Mr. Inigo’s fifth graders served lunch yesterday at St. Vincent de Paul’s Village. As a homework assignment, Mr. Inigo asked his students to reflect on how their preconceptions of the visit matched their actual observations, and to share lessons learned from the experience. Below are some of their responses:

“Today I served at St. Vincent de Paul’s Soup Kitchen. I thought that we were going to serve 80 people but instead we served 1,008 people. I had five different jobs including: taking the dirty trays to the cleaning room, handing out cups, pouring juice, handing out bread, and hand delivering the trays to the disabled and to the homeless with animals.”

“We helped serve the people who didn’t have food. We handed out sporks, napkins, and helped clean tables. We poured drinks and brought out food to the people who were disabled. . . . I learned that if you finish a meal or snack, think twice about what you are throwing away because the homeless citizens who don’t have food would eat anything.”

“Today my class went to St. Vincent de Paul’s Soup Kitchen, a place where people who need a little help go to get a warm meal. . . . I expected to see people in ragged clothes and with no cell phones or anything of value, but instead I saw people who are just like me but less fortunate. I am really lucky to have a family and a place to call home.”

“I expected parents, kids, veterans, and the disabled. I saw that and more. It hurts to watch them. But it heals me to see their faces light up when they see how many care about them. . . . I learned that the homeless are just like us–they have dogs, cellphones, and kids.”

“The visit to St. Vincent de Paul made me realize that people are really all the same, however, through life experiences, sometimes we face hard times and need a little help from one another.”

Reading the students’ thoughts reminded me of the good that comes from serving the larger community as stated in a passage from Drs. Brooks and Goldstein’s Raising Resilient Children. “Children’s inborn need to help is an obvious fit with reinforcing a sense of responsibility and compassion. Engaging in the task of helping others strengthens children’s self esteem and feeling of ownership and instills the message that what they do contributes to the well-being of other people.” I hope for all of our Gillispie students these kinds of broadening experiences.

Alison Fleming
Head of School

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